Seemingly Insignificant

Do you ever feel insignificant?

Do you wonder if the work you do each day will ever amount to anything?  Is it worth it to do the dishes again, answer a million questions, teach that english lesson, switch one more load?

Do you wonder if what you do has value?

I do.  All the time.  Oh, I know that everything I do has value, somehow, somewhere, but it can be so hard to move from knowing to believing, can’t it?  And the knowing keeps me doing it all, but the believing, that’s where the real difference is made.

I recently went on a missions trip to Chile.  When you think of missions trips, you think of doing wild, amazing things.  Of leading people to Christ, speaking to large groups, basically anything that seems big and significant.

And what did I do all week?  Well, the first day I led people from one line to the next appropriate line.  Yup.  For an entire day.  That’s all I did.  I said hola, smiled, and led them where they needed to go.  I was working in a vision clinic so I just led them to see the doctor or to be fitted for glasses.  The next three days I learned how to fit people for glasses.  Which was slightly more rewarding because it was fun being able to watch some people see clearly for the first time and they were very grateful.  But significant?  Didn’t really feel like it.

But you know what?  Because we said hola, and smiled, and were kind, and showed the love of Jesus through free glasses, when people were led over to the area where other Chilean christians were waiting to share the Gospel, the people holding those glasses were open and receptive.  And over 350 people got saved in those four days of clinic.

Its not very often that we get to see the results of our seemingly insignificant actions right in the same room, on the same day.  But it was a beautiful reminder to me that every little thing we do in the name of Jesus really is significant.

I was about to write this post last Tuesday, when God had other plans.  I think He wanted this lesson to really sink into me before I shared it with you.  Instead of my plans of writing on the internet and trying to do something significant, I spent the afternoon with my daughter in the walk-in clinic.  She’s fine.  She just decided to jump off the top of bleachers at her dad’s baseball game and sprain a ligament in her foot.  So a bone is kind of bumping out the side of her foot a little.  But no cast for the summer – all the praise hands.

So if today you’re showing up faithful to your job, or you’re wiping snot for the one hundredth time, or you’re doing groceries, or cooking, or whatever, remember that when we do the seemingly insignificant with the love of Jesus, He turns whatever we do into significance.

Dear North American Christian

I have had the amazing privilege to be in 14 different countries in my life so far.  I hope to go to many more!  Some were quick visits, some were longer, and I lived in the Philippines for about two years.

This week I’m adding a new one to the list.  I leave in just a few days for Chile.  I’m going on a missions trip with a group called Medical Missions Outreach.  If you haven’t heard of them and the awesome work they’re doing, please click on the name and find out more!

I’m excited about this organization because I love the way they reach people.  I believe that the Gospel is the most important thing that we can give to any living soul on earth.  But I also believe that they will be much more open to the Gospel when we show God’s love to them in physical, tangible ways.  I don’t have any medical training, but I’ll be able to work alongside Doctors and Nurses as they care for people’s physical needs and then missionaries as they care for their souls.

I also believe that every North American christian should leave North America at some point if at all possible.  Seeing so much of the world has opened me up to new cultures, new ideas, new ways of seeing the world.  I’d say new foods too, but I’m so picky that hasn’t happened too much!  All of that has been great, but when you sit beside someone in their cardboard house and they want to be the one that shares what they have with you, it changes something in your perspective for the rest of your life.  It doesn’t take away that we have problems here, because each of us has real problems in life and I wouldn’t diminish that.

It gives you more of an eternal perspective.  Helps to remind you of what is really important.  And that most of what we have, is not important at all.  It helps me remember that money doesn’t bring happiness, contentment does.  That there are Christians being persecuted for their faith, so I should be able to stand here for mine.  That God loves people in every country in the world, and I need to also.

I know not everyone can just go on the next missions trip this year!  But there are ways we can all broaden our perspective and live with eternal vision, even here in North America.  So if you can, go on that next trip, but if you can’t, figure out a way to be involved in missions some way in your city and church.  You’ll be surprised what you can come up with.

Angkor Wat

On our way home from Siem Reap today. It’s about a 7 hour drive in the bus. Gives me lots of time to think about what I will write about. The roads are really smooth for the most part. The odd big bump here or there which makes the kids all yell. Me and the driver just look at each other and laugh. We found out that our driver is a Christian. One of the kids saw a bible in his bag so Saveoun asked him. He’s a super nice guy and had been with us the whole time. He even went swimming with us. It has been nice driving through the countryside seeing the slight cultural differences in the different provinces. Although you may never know what you’re going to see on the road. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem smart or safe.

We all had a really good time with the kids from The North Country Baptist Children’s home. We took them out to eat twice. Once to a restaurant called the Shabu House. The kids really like that one. It is a hot pot restaurant, which means that you have a hot plate at your table and you have a pot of soup and all sorts of different food going in front of you and you just pick what you want out of the pot and eat it. The other restaurant we took the kids to was called the Pizza Company. Yes it serves pizza. We had 50 people with all the kids and workers at both places. It was fun.

Yesterday we took all the kids to the big attraction in Siem Reap. We went to the ancient temples which are called Angkor Wat. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was to keep track of 40 kids. It was really a lot of fun and the kids seemed to enjoy it. I had two of the boys that I needed to keep track of. It wasn’t too hard. I don’t think they let go of my hands the whole time. And did I mention it’s hot in Cambodia? It is. Not too bad once you got inside the temple though. The structures are pretty amazing. It’s a wonder how they built them without any machinery. The detail inside in the walls are amazing. I would recommend making the trip to Siem Reap if you are ever in Cambodia.

Get to know them

I am so privileged to be here right now. As I am writing this 21 boys are having an opportunity that they probably never thought they would have. They are swimming in a hotel pool. The girls will be coming this afternoon to swim so we aren’t leaving them out.

I want to share with you the story of two of the children. A boy and a girl. The boy’s name is Vannek, pronounced. He is 13 years old and has been in the children’s home in Phnom Penh for 9 months. He was living with his grandfather because his parents are separated and neither one could afford for him to live with them. His grandfather couldn’t really either, so he had him work with him. They would go into the dump every night and search for things that they could sell. It would be very difficult because they would just use flashlights. The reason they would go at night is because that was when the garbage trucks would drop off the garbage. The scary part is that it is dark and very hard to see. You never knew you what you were going to step in or on. Or what you would find. Saveun was telling me that they have found the bodies of babies before. Not a very good life for a 14 year old boy. During the day he and his grandpa would sleep and rest up for the next night. So that meant no school for him. It costs quite a bit to go to school here, so there’s no way that his grandfather could send him. When Vannek came here 9 months ago, he could not read or write. He had never been to school a day in his life. Fast forward 8 months. He is happy and healthy, eats three meals a day. Goes to school every day. Now you would think never going to school the first 13 years of your life you might struggle a little bit. Not Vannek!! Not only did he place third in his school for reading and writing, he also has learned to play the piano!!!!! On Sunday he played the song for the children’s choir and did a fantastic job. Just think of the opportunities he will have in his life because of unconditional love.

The girls name is Sraynov. She is 6 years old and has just only arrived two days ago. Every time I think about her it brings tears to my eyes. Both of her parents have the HIV virus. Thankfully she does not have it. And I found out the reason this morning is because they adopted her. They thought that they could not have children, and they knew of an unwed mother that could not afford to take care of her. The problem now is, it is very hard for someone with HIV to find a job. So they are struggling quite a bit. This is Savuens older brother. They contacted him and asked if there was room at the children’s home. And of course he said yes. It was really hard for Sraynov that first night. Myself and Savouen were still sitting around the supper table when she came down from her room crying cause she missed her parents. It was making me cry knowing that her parents were probably missing her. Savouen has such a kind heart. You can tell that he really cares for these children. It probably helps that this is his niece, but I have seen his kindness with the other children as well.

It makes me feel sad and happy at the same time just we need to have this children’s home. Glad that we can have a safe place for them where they can go to school and get lots to eat. But sad that they are away from their parents.

Cambodian Weekend

Before we get to Michael’s blog, he forgot to write about something in his last post, and I thought I would just show you the screen shot of our conversation…

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Saturday was a long good day. Got up at 7 to get ready to go visiting at 8. I’m glad we got up early because it was hot. I know I say it’s hot a lot. Because it is, and Saturday was no exception. I didn’t die though. It was nice to get to see a little bit more of the inner city of Phnom Penh. We quite often drive just down the main roads and I like to see what the real city looks like.

We went first to see some members of the church. A lot of them have been coming for a long time. But maybe not quite as faithful as they should be. Pastor Savouen wanted to let them know that there was a special speaker on Sunday. We went to a variety of different places, all of them very poor. Several of the housing complexes that we went to were donated by foreign organizations. The people don’t have to pay for the building of the houses, just monthly rent and electricity. Most of them are fairly nice and it costs them about $15 a month. Most jobs pay around $5-$10 a day. I found it interesting that that they use mostly smaller bricks, where most warm countries use the bigger hollow blocks.



My favourite house to visit was our last one of the morning. The family we visited has a Down syndrome boy. His name Pich and he is six. He was so happy and was very excited to see Pastor Savouen. He is one of his favourite people and you can really tell.

In the afternoon we went to the houses that were at the garbage dump. There weren’t too many people there, because they were all in the dump looking for stuff they could sell. We did see an elderly lady and her grandson though. The boy has to be in a wheelchair. Not really sure why, but his legs are really skinny and there is no way that he would be able to walk on them. He had some really big open sores on his feet so we brought some antiseptic cream and bandages to put on them. We were able to go to another area and met quite a few people there. We were talking to a younger guy and he was saying the dump was 15 meters deep. That’s a lot of garbage. He was invited to come out to church Sunday night, but he didn’t come. It is hard to get young people to come to church. Please pray for this area as they have just started the church here.


Silk Island

I have snuck away to a nice little coffee shop that has aircon to write this. Have I mentioned that it’s hot in Cambodia? 40 degrees and it feels like 40 degrees. So I’m sitting here enjoying my caramel latte. Trying to figure out why I told Jennifer I would blog.

It was a good day today. We went to a small island called Silk Island, locally known as Koh Dach. Yes, it is known for its silk. It was a bit of a drive, but it was a good way to see some of Phnom Phen as well as some of the countryside. I got to ride on the back of a motorcycle for about 4 hours today. It was enjoyable, but my backside was sore by the time we got back. And did I mention that it is 40 degrees out? Don’t tell Jennifer, but I may have a little bit of a sunburned neck. We did have to take a ferry over to the island. It only took about 20 mins to get across. They sure do pack the vehicles on though.

It is a very interesting place. You can feel the laid back nature of the island. The houses are built up on stilts and underneath are the looms and lots of hammocks. We have come to Cambodia during the week of their new year, so nobody was working, but as we drove by one place the lady asked us if we wanted to see how the loom works. I still don’t know how they are able to do the designs on them. It was very interesting to see. Of course we figured we should purchase some silk scarves from her as she was willing to do that for us. And they were a good deal. We also got to see a silk worm farm as well. Again, as it is a holiday week, not much was going on. Still very cool to see.

Silk island is very interesting because not many tourists go there. The roads are all dirt, which kind of makes for an uncomfortable motorcycle ride, but it was enjoyable. We stopped by the beach just to see what it was like. As it is New Years, it was very busy with locals and many nationals from Pnom Pnem. It was kind of nice to go someplace that you know that not many foreigners have been. Definitely worth the trip.

Time to finish up my latte and head back to the hotel. Pastor Wood’s sister and husband have picked out a place to go for supper tonight. They picked a fantastic one last night, so I’m expecting a delicious supper tonight as well.

Unconditional Love

So my husband flew away last Sunday night to Cambodia.  When I wrote the last post I had intended it to be an introduction to his trip, but I got carried away with the story!

As you could imagine, with us meeting while helping to build an orphanage, orphan care is very close to our heart.  After we were married we spent another year in the Philippines working at the orphanage.  I remember taking that first little baby home with me in the afternoons to feed him and give his caretaker a little break.

Now our church has started a brand new children’s home in Cambodia.  You may remember hearing about it in this post.  Michael is spending the next two weeks with our Pastor in Cambodia helping to get things all set up.  Its an amazing opportunity and I’m totally jealous.  I asked him to take over my blog and tell us all about his trip and the children’s home there.  I hope you enjoy his stories – Plus now he won’t get in trouble when he gets home and describes his whole two weeks as, “good”.  Here’s his first post….

Unconditional love. What does that mean? Let me try to get you to use your imagination. Imagine you lived just outside a massive garbage dump and for the first ten years of your life all you know is going into that dump everyday just so you can find some tin to sell so you can get some money to buy some food to eat. Now imagine if you didn’t know if your mom was going to try and sell you today to someone because she can’t afford to feed you or herself.

That doesn’t really sound like it has anything to do with unconditional love does it? But let me continue.

Imagine a man that knows what it’s like to not know what breakfast is. A man who’s mother would tell him to go to sleep right after supper because he told her he was still hungry and she didn’t have any more food to feed him or his seven siblings. A man that lost his father at age 12 to tongue cancer. Because there were no doctors in your country because they have all been killed by the government. This man is where the unconditional love starts. His name is Sophanora San. He started by getting some children to come to church on Sunday morning and he would give them a shower, clothes and food. Now there are 16 children living in his house. With two more coming on Friday. Luckily he has a 20 room house.

The children. I can’t really say all their names. I wish I could. I wish I could ask them all their stories and find out how they ended up at the Harvesters Baptist Children’s Home Cambodia. I’m sure it would break my heart to hear those stories. Unconditional love. These children give it without any thought. It was so amazing to arrive at the airport and have 16 kids, who have no idea who you are, come and give you some of the best hugs. Unconditional love. When they sneak out into the terrace and peek in the window so they can see if you are awake. (As I am writing this)

Their lives have been changed by unconditional love. They get three meals a day, as much as they can eat. No more searching through garbage. No more wondering if they will be sold. Only lots and lots of love. Instead they get to go swimming in a hotel pool, and get to go to restaurants that they had probably never knew existed.

Unconditional love. Life changing love.

Road Trip 2015- Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia.  The last province on our trip.

This province held something special that the others didn’t.  Family!  And friends too!  We came off the ferry on Thursday and headed to Halifax.  We found a superstore and did some groceries and then took a walk around the harbour.  It was really beautiful and a perfect afternoon.  I think if I could pick any city to live in just by a quick look around, Halifax might win!  We headed back over the bridge to Dartmouth to hit another You Gotta Eat Here restaurant.  We tried out Cheese Curds and had the best poutine I’ve ever had.  And they had amazing burgers.  By the way, they should really make a show like that with places that sell healthy food!!  But we did enjoy it.


After stuffing ourselves, we headed over to Michael’s Uncle and Aunt’s house.  They graciously hosted us for two days and their place is absolutely gorgeous.


We had a good visit with them and then headed off to separate rooms which was a treat.  I seriously had no idea how much my kids talk and snore in their sleep until this trip!  I think by the last few days I was able to tune most of it out, but wow.  They’re loud.

The next day we spent time visiting out on the gorgeous deck and Michael played some golf with his uncle.  In the afternoon we went to a fair, ate cotton candy, saw giant pumpkins, and watched barrel racing.  I felt thoroughly countrified.  Michael and the kids went out on the lake for an hour when we got back and then we enjoyed the most delicious turkey dinner cooked by his aunt and with two of his cousins.  It was so wonderful to meet them!  It was the first time Michael had seen them since he was around three, so it was a special dinner.  Later that night I slipped out and went into Halifax and met my cousin who is attending school there.  We stayed up way too late but had a great visit:)

Peggy’s cove was on our agenda the next morning.  I felt very Canadian listening to the bagpipes and looking through the mist:)  It was beautiful and the best part was that an old friend that Michael grew up with and who I’ve reconnected with in the online world came out to see us there!  It was so sweet of her and it was great to meet her two children.


Off we went to Lunenburg.  What a cool little town.  We didn’t have as much time there as we would’ve liked because I’ve heard that the fisheries museum is amazing, but we were too late in the day.  But we did get to walk the Bluenose II.  And Emma got her favourite hat ever:)

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That night we headed to New Glasgow where the conference was.  This conference was the reason that we had an excuse to go out east in the first place.  We enjoyed a great Sunday with Pastor Ryan King and his wonderful church family.

On the Monday we had most of the day before the conference began, but by this time, I think we were touristed out.  We could’ve driven two hours in any direction and seen some beautiful things, but we just couldn’t make ourselves drive four hours that day and then go to services that night.  So we found a place thirty minutes away where we could get a day pass and go swimming, rock climbing, etc.  We really enjoyed that day of sleeping in and just playing.

As for the conference, it was amazing.  The host church was so kind to everyone and did a great job of introducing us to some east coast flavour.  East Coast music playing before the services, blueberry jam to take home, and apparently most importantly, pizza where the sauce is not tomato based but instead lard based.  Yup.  And it was good:)  I came away from the preaching so encouraged and filled up.

But all good things must come to an end.  Wednesday morning we got up and intended to drive around 12-14 hours, stop for the night and drive the rest the next morning.  But around mid afternoon we started talking about possibly driving all the way.  19 hours later, we made it home at 2:30am.  It was tiring, but really amazing to wake up in my own bed!

The whole trip was really a gift.  A time of learning, family time, refreshing, fun, and beauty.


Road Trip 2015 – Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island.  Land of red sand and Anne with an e.

And of course, we made sure we saw both!  We drove from Grand Manan to PEI on Tuesday night.  I was hoping to see the confederation bridge in the light, but it was already dark when we got there.  Only by about 10 min!  But it was awfully beautiful with the lights on the water in the dark too.  And the next day we were able to see it in the distance on one of our drives.  We stayed in Cornwall right outside of Charlottetown.  I went by some online reviews and booked the Super 8.  I was a little nervous about that one, but it was a wonderful place!  And had the best pool.  Kids loved it there.  Couldn’t see a pool that nice and not let them swim right away so they got in another late night swim:)

Wednesday morning we got up and drove into Charlottetown.  We went to the Founders Hall first because its also an information centre.  We took the Founders tour first and it was awesome.  I learned so much about the founding of Canada that I had either never known, or likely, had forgotten.  It was a self guided tour with headsets which was actually really nice because you just go on your own schedule and your own pace.  If you go to Charlottetown, you need to go there.  Then we got our maps, and sat in the car staring at them for a while before a kind information officer noticed us sitting in our car for a long time, came over, and told us the best way to get to Green Gables.  Of course, since we were following the map and our phones weren’t talking to us, we ended up going the wrong direction for a while:)  For us, PEI was the island of u-turns:)  And I don’t know why, because everything is clearly marked, and we got the hang of it by the end of the day, but only after several turns:)

We made the drive down to Green Gables, which we really enjoyed.  A friend of ours was texting us while we were there and was so excited that we sent him a picture.  He said that was the “Greenest Gables Ever”:)  We had fun learning more about the author and touring the house, but my favourite part was walking through the trails that inspired Lovers Lane and The Haunted Wood.  It was so beautiful there.

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Only problem there is, its a very seasonal area of PEI so it was very difficult to find food!  Mostly everything was closed for the summer but we did see this one market open.  We walked in to buy some groceries and eat a quick lunch in the van but when we walked it, almost every shelf was bare.  It was a weird feeling.  We managed to put together a pretty tasty lunch from random things left and when we walked out the door I noticed that the sign said they were closing that day!  Just in the nick of time:)

On the way to Green Gables, we stopped at a beach, but it wasn’t quite red enough for me.  Apparently PEI has many different colours of beaches.  Who knew?  Anyways, we hunted the rest of the day for a very red sand beach.  We kept finding places to pull over and look at the very beautiful red cliffs,


but I was stubborn and really wanted to walk on the red sand.  We kept trying, but finally decided to give up and head back towards the city.  We saw a place to look at lighthouses and pulled over.  We went walking on all these trails towards the lighthouses


and low and behold, one of them led down to a red sand beach that you could walk on!  I was so excited!  And I got this awesome picture so I was happy:)


We headed back into Charlottetown to try out another You Gotta Eat Here restaurant, but it was so busy that we headed back up the street.  We ate at a burrito place and it was really good too.  We were going to end with some Cow’s ice cream, which apparently you must eat when you’re on the island, but for some reason closes at 6!  So that was a bust too.  Our eating plan in Charlottetown didn’t work out the way we planned it, but it was a beautiful night and a beautiful city so we enjoyed it anyways.

The next morning we called and booked the ferry off of the island – I’m learning! – and just took it easy.  The kids got some more swimming in and since it was the halfway point of our trip, I took the time to reorganize everything.  I felt much better after that!  Also, we discovered that just down the road was the Cow’s Ice Cream factory with free tours.  Off we went on the way out of town and we finally had some ice cream.  And it was amazing.  Definitely a must do!IMG_2429

Another gorgeous ferry ride later and we were off to our last province to explore, Nova Scotia!IMG_2432

Road Trip 2015 – Grand Manan

We visited this little jewel of an island in New Brunswick called Grand Manan.

We left Ottawa at 5am on Monday morning.  Why 5 am you ask?  Well, this little island has a ferry to it and this time of year they only run one boat.  So I was trying to get the 5:30pm ferry so that we didn’t have to wait until the 9pm ferry.  An 11 hour drive followed by a 3.5 hour wait was not something that I wanted to do.  So we woke up the kids at 4:30, double checked how many hours we would take to get there, figured we were good and off we went.  Quick in and out stops, making it through Montreal without yelling at each other, and by lunch time I decided to turn on my phone maps and see when we would get there.  It said 5:30.  Well, that didn’t make sense since I had scheduled the day to get there at 4:30!  I was incredibly frustrated to see that we had lost an hour somewhere.  I couldn’t figure it out.  The ferry recommended that you be there 45 min early.  They also recommended making a reservation, but I didn’t want to do that until I knew we were going to make it.  After actually counting the hours out on my fingers several times it occurred to me.  Um, Jen, there’s a time difference in New Brunswick.  Oh man.  Around 3 Michael asked me to take over driving.  So once he was asleep I took advantage of the 110 speed limit and made up 10 min:)  We called when we were an hour away to make a reservation, but they weren’t taking anymore!  They were full!  But she said we could go in the standby lane.  So we didn’t ask the kids if they were hungry or had to go to the bathroom and the gas tank light was on by the time we got there at 5:19.  We parked in that lane and waited.  There was a whole lane of standby ahead of us.  Just as we pulled up, the man stopped us and asked us to wait until he saw if there was any room left.  At this point Emma yelled, “I’ve been praying, who’s turn is it now??” After a most intense couple of minutes, he waved us on and we all yelled!!  They only let on three cars after us.  I think this will be a memorable part of our trip:)

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Our best attempts at selfies on the ferry!

Once we got to the island, after all feeling kind of sick on the boat – I think it was more just that we were tired and hungry and it was too cold to go outside – we went to our hotel, the Marathon Inn.  It was quaint and antiquey with a brand new bathroom, the perfect combination.  Emma didn’t like it because she thought it was “too old-fashioned” but she survived.  The floors creaked and it had a narrow staircase and I loved it.

The next morning we got up and started to explore the island.  We started off with a walk on the beach, one of my favourite ways to start a day.


Then we went to this little park called Hole-in-the-wall park where you had to let yourself into the attendants station and use their phone to call someone to let you in:)  This park may be one of my favourite places on earth to date.  It was the perfect combination of an island, a perfect day, and great company:)  We went hiking for about an hour and a half here and it was absolutely gorgeous.  We walked on trails that went right on the cliffs and the kids weren’t scared at all!  If you remember my hiking experience with my brother in Alberta this year, then you’ll know that this wasn’t scary for me at all now:) I did have some motherly moments of asking Michael if he thought it was ok for the kids in certain spots but they loved every second.  I had to keep laughing because they wanted to lead the way, but every time they would come to hard spot, or slippery spot, or something was sticking out, they would yell back, “be careful here mom!”  It was quite ridiculous:)  But I loved it.


Can you see the little people here?  It was high up!

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Hard to tell here, but this is Emma’s face looking way, way down!  I adore this picture!


Most beautiful picnic ever!

Then we drove just about 2 minutes and went to a lighthouse.  More hiking and stairs and gorgeous views.


After this we went for a little drive on the island, saw a heritage site with herring smoking buildings and went for a walk on the beach, collecting more things for Emma’s ever-growing collection of beach things.  After that we had about an hour before we wanted to be back at the reserved-not-late-for ferry, so we stopped at this tiny island museum and gift shop.  It was only the size of a house, but it was pretty cool and finally explained to us what all those circles of poles with nets on them were and how they worked:)

The ferry ride back was absolutely gorgeous since it was a late afternoon, sunny ride and we were better dressed for it.  We stayed outside the whole time and the kids even saw a dolphin.  I soaked up the sun with a nap on the bench and renewed my glasses tan.

I had never heard of this island before I started planning this trip, but I’m glad I came across it!  We had the best time exploring this little jewel.