Dear friends and followers,

PLEASE note that we are transitioning from BlogSpot to http://jasonandsarahurst.theworldrace.org/  We would love to have you subscribe to get our updates if you're interested.  Thank you SO MUCH for showing your interest and support in this way.  It encourages us more than you know!

Jason & Sara



Yep!  We are currently en route to Georgia in the midst of a deluge of rain.  Perhaps the weather forecast of daily rain for Gainesville, GA this week is an answer to Jason’s prayer for cooler-than-average temperatures.  (Somehow he hasn't been too excited about tenting in Georgia for a week in late July :-P.)

Today marks the start of the 8-days of training camp for The World Race.  Our body backpacks are packed; this is a bit of a trial-run for the 11 countries/11 months we will be starting in September.  (My pack weighed in at a record 25 lbs.!  Maybe traveling is finally teaching me to pack light…) We are excited to meet the rest of our team, spend the week together, try out our new camping gear, and participate in team activities (what exactly, we have no idea!).  We are thankful for this upcoming time of preparation and learning more about what to expect in the coming year as it will make the actual packing and final preparation much simpler. 

What’s been happening?  We recently spent a delightful week in Ohio, helping my brother and his wife renovate a home to move into.  We helped with things like stripping and sanding floors, installing lights and doors, a bit of fencing repair and gate installation, and other minor projects.  It was really fun to see progress throughout the week and to give them a boost for their upcoming move.  We returned to PA in time to attend an employee’s wedding Saturday evening.

This past week we were actually home!  I sound surprised, because it was the first few days in the past 3 weeks that weren’t preplanned.  Jason was able to catch up with a few business-related meetings and such, and we finally had time for lots of shopping, packing, and preparing for training camp.  We also got to spend a bit of relaxed time with the Hurst family as well, which was a nice break from prep.
So, that’s the past few weeks in a nutshell, and what we’re moving into this week.  As we transition forward, we will also be changing completely over to our World Race blog site: jasonandsarahurst.theworldrace.org  You will find this post (and others) posted on both blogs, but from now on, we will be updating only one site (yay!).  A shout out to all our readers and followers!  Your support, interest, and care mean so much to us!  THANK YOU!!!



Jason's brother's wedding
The past 10 days have been a flurry of activity.  It’s hard to believe that we celebrated graduation from our 6-month training program with YWAM San Francisco just over a week ago.  Since then we’ve had a family wedding, a week-long “staycation” with the Hurst family, and a trip to Ohio. 
And then there are the transitions:

Eating potatoes instead of pasta.  Trading the cool San Francisco weather for an East Coast summer.  Learning to appreciate American coffee again after 3 months of Italian espresso.  Actually speaking a common language with everyone.  Living with family in rural Lancaster County instead of in community in urban centers in California and Italy.  Shifting from intense focus on personal life/development, ministry, and community living, to busy schedules, demands, checklists, and deadlines.  For Jason, moving into the next decade!

YWAM San Francisco Winter DTS 2014.  Our AMAZING team!!!
And then there’s the team.  Being apart from the dozen or so people we lived with, worked with, learned with, and grew with for the past 6 months.  The people who we shared life with in close proximity, who became like family.  I miss you guys.  You encouraged, fostered growth, challenged, supported well, were incredibly fun to hang out with, and were so full of life, love, and deeply cared for all.  You’re the best team ever!  (You’ve set the bar awfully high for our fellow racers on The World Race in September…)

Now that we’re back, the past 6 months almost feels like a different life entirely.  It is like I have changed, deepened, been challenged, and grown so much, then was plopped back into a former life.  A life that seems SO familiar, despite an extended absence.  So familiar, in fact, that it feels like I too should be unchanged.  Yet I cannot deny what has happened within and around me.  How do I reconcile this tension?  This quandary makes me realize how much I miss my team: those who have walked through the same challenges, experiences, and have grown alongside of me.  At the same time, it makes me SO THANKFUL to have done all this in tandem with Jason and to have one person who is in the same transition period with whom I can process my questions and challenges.

So, there is my attempt to encapsulate these transitions. 

Now it is time to close the YWAM chapter, while retaining what we have learned, and move into the next phase: preparing for World Race and, of course, reconnecting with friends and family while we are home this summer.  Thank you all so much for your interest and support!  We have missed you and look forward to spending time with many of you in the coming weeks and months.


last days in Italy in caption...

music in the main square (aka "piazza")

games at the youth center
working/cleanup at the church
playing with kids at the park
small group in a tiny, hot, crowded apartment (aka "flat")

last dinner with our amazing hosts in Milan...we made and served gourmet burgers!

...and gelato!

Venetian food...
weekend getaway in Venice.


Life, Gelato, and Soccer


Sara looking great drinking her favorite beverage; Coffee
Gelato is something worth getting excited about!
      Our time in Italy is going well and we've been having a good time building relationships with the local church and community here so that's been cool and rewarding.
Classical accordion concert inside a old historic church with some talented performers!
We’ve been going to the local park and on several occasions I have been able to play soccer with a few of the local young guys. I'm terrible compared to them, but they love having me play with them anyhow. I always come away feeling like an old man from all the running and trying to keep up with them (yes, I have scored a goal once or twice J ). Yesterday one of the guys told me that I'm like his adopted brother… which I thought was pretty cool!  I'm hoping to use the relationships I've been building with them to get them connected with the local church and youth group at our upcoming community barbecue which we have planned on the 14th of June.

 We've been spending time together as a team doing some wonderful things such as going to a free concert, getting gelato with our host family, and living life together. This trip has been amazing in large part to the wonderful people we get to spend so much time with and just do life together.
A few of us in Milan at a free outdoor classical music concert!


The Cage, and other fun stuff...

For the past week we have been partnering with a local church in a nearby town (Rozzano) to assist with community events aimed at kids and teenagers.  We will continue with similar activities through the end of this week with more of a focus on young kids in the kids playground area. 

There are numerous activities and treasures we offer for kids such as face painting, balloon animals, dart throwing, soccer in a cage, puppet show, simple English vocabulary, etc.  The Cage [soccer] was the star activity this past weekend: 2-on-2 soccer in a small space for 2 minutes at a time.  Then several times throughout the day we'd have the kids and staff all enter the cage and do a drama, tell a short personal story, etc.  We ended the weekend with a tournament and trophies, which was a lot of fun for those involved. 

It has been a lot of fun getting to know another community here and being able to be involved with the church and their ministry. Keith and his wife Debbie are the leaders at the church in Rozzano and are doing a fantastic job of organizing the daily events for our team.

It's starting to feel like summer here so the afternoons spent outside are pretty warm and we are working on a pretty nice tan the last few weeks :)  Time is flying by with only a little over 4 weeks left here till we return to SF.  It's hard to believe how fast the time has gone.

Love to all,
Jason and Sara -a collaborative effort this time =)


Milano, Italy.

The beautiful town of Casorate
Blogging has been sporadic.  Schedule is irregular and a bit unpredictable.  It's time to attempt to describe where we are and what we're doing in Italy.

Working with our hosts at their home in Casorate

I'm sitting on the balcony of a home in the little town of Casorate, enjoying a rare thunder storm.  This is a beautiful place.  A quaint village with little streets, old houses, little shops and restaurants.  Nine of the thirteen people in our team are staying in Casorate with a host family of 5.  Jason and I staying about 30 minutes away in Milan in a 2-bedroom apartment (or "flat" as it's called in Italy) with another couple, actually our team leader and his wife.  We're typically together with the entire team during the day, usually we commute to Casorate, but some days they drive to Milan to meet us there. 

Jason in the "pandemonium"

We have been in this part of Italy for about one week.  Our days have rather diverse.  So far our time has been mostly divided between hanging out at local parks talking to people ... partnering with an organization working with teens ... helping our hosts with projects at the house ... squeezing into our small rented Fiat Panda (aka "pandemonium") for our daily commutes ... volunteering at church events and joining the youth group for an evening ... participating in an informal worship team on frequent occasions (Jason plays the keyboard and I sing) ... and just spending time in and getting to know the communities in which we live.  We are still figuring out what the routine here will look like, but are excited about what is ahead.  Already, we have met some amazing people and have made some wonderful friends.
Ultimate Frisbee at the park

As always, thanks for your interest and support.  We love and miss you all!


last days in Rome

Community picnic in the park
Hello everyone!

Park cleanup
We're within 2 days of departure from Rome, Italy, to Milan, Italy where we'll spend the remaining 8 weeks of our YWAM adventure.  We have had so many great opportunities here in the community of Laurentina during our stay, as well as some surrounding areas.  Our activities included: helping the church host a picnic at the park for the community the Monday after Easter (an additional holiday here), picking up trash several afternoons a week at the park, volunteering at a community center that serves refugees from countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, serving dinners for the community at the church, participating with another church's youth evenings, and doing cleanup and minor landscaping projects for our hosts. 

Jason's lasagna for 40! (community dinner)

Hopefully this gives you an idea of the sort of things we've been doing here in Rome...it has been a combination of community service projects and more specific ministry times, all in conjunction with the local church here in Laurentina. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Italy thus far and will be sad to leave our delightful hosts and the new friends we have made here.

Wildflowers along the road near the house

We're not sure what to expect in the next phase of the trip, but we're excited about whatever is ahead!  Thanks to you all for your thoughts, interest, support, and prayers.  

We love and miss you!
Sara for us

Our amazing hosts on the rooftop terrace


Roma, Italy

We're here!  Sorry this has taken so long, and now I only have a few minutes to write... We've been in Rome about 1 week now and are finally recovering from jet lag =).  We are staying and working with the local church here in the southern part of the city in the neighborhood of Laurentino.  This area is affectionately called the "ghetto of Rome."  The building we're staying in serves as a community center, a church (for multiple different groups), and housing for the entire team and our fabulous host couple.  Our activities so far have included community service projects like picking up trash in the park, volunteering at a drop-in center for refugees, participating in and helping to host a weekly community dinner, and just spending time in the neighborhood building friendships and relationships...and drinking lots of espresso and exploring this beautiful city in our free time.  Speaking of which, I have an espresso appointment with another team member now, so I'll sign off.  Love and blessings to all!


Italy, here we come!

Sail boat ride in the SF Bay!
Sunrise overlooking the city of SF

Three months has come and gone in a flash and we are in the middle of our last full day here in SF with less then 24hrs to go till departure time for Italy! While it seems time has sped by, the amazing things we learned from so many great teachers while being here has been very impact-full in our lives. Also the time spent building relationships with the people of San Francisco has been a wonderful experience and we are very blessed to have been a part of the community here during our stay. We definitely are leaving part of our heart here as we leave for the next phase of our time in YWAM.  We plan on being in Rome for three weeks working with a church there and then heading north to Milan for the remainder of out time also working with a church there. We will return to San Fransisco towards the end of June for our graduation and debrief time.
Golden Gate bridge with Sara's parents who came to visit us!

Please keep us in your prayers as we go. Our goal is to serve and support the churches we will be working with and to overall bless them while being there and working alongside of them.



The hidden Cross atop Mount Davidson 

We had the best classroom spaces ever this week! 
Our topic was "cities", and our teacher, Tim Svoboda took us to multiple beautiful vistas overlooking San Francisco for class times.  It was delightful to get out of our basement classroom for several sessions to enjoy the gorgeous day and views.  A great diversion and an amazing way to dialogue about cities from these heights.

Amazing views with Tim with sunset included!

Other highlights from the week included visiting the Castro and hearing from a pastor there about ways to actively engage one's community, and doing chair aerobics with our friends at the senior center.

Spring has sprung!

Chair Aerobics at the Senior Center

Cable car riding

1 out of 10 miles down for the day...
We were also blessed by a visit from my parents this week!  They came Thursday and are staying in a nearby hotel until Tuesday [early] morning.  They've been able to join us for some classes and activities, and we've had fun showing them around town.  We even got to do a bunch of things we hadn't done before including: walking the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting the town of Sausalito, bringing the ferry back to San Francisco, dining in at Tony's Pizza, and going to the cable car museum.  Of course, we also got to show them some of our favorites here as well, such as Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower (where we got to see a beautiful sunset), Filbert [wooden stair] Street, and the cable cars.  Yet Saturday alone we logged about 10 miles on foot!  (My parents are pretty spry, I'd say...)  I believe the highlights for them were walking the Golden Gate and riding the cable cars (besides being with us of course!).  We have had an wonderful time together being outdoors and enjoying the lovely spring weather.