Day Two in Ubud

An important part of our service trip to Bali is building the working relationship within our team and immersing ourselves in the local culture before we visit the schools. Today our group toured small villages in the Ubud area on bicycles. Getting off the busy roads with their constraint drone of motorbikes is a great way to appreciate the true beauty and tranquility of the island.

The HMS team visiting temples off the beaten path

After the bike ride, our team continued their adventure on a rafting trip down one of the many small rivers which run from the volcanoes to the sea.

Katy, Wayan and Bridget 

In the afternoon we made all of the last minute arrangements for the sponsored student’s party at Iluh’s house in Munduk. With 66 students (we added 3 more today!), their parents and random siblings, the party has the flavor of a military operation. Each student writes a note to their sponsor, receives their backpack and has their photo taken. Luckily we have 8 members of our team so everyone has an assignment.

In the evening, we went to the water temple for the highlight of our stay in Ubud. This is the first time we’ve been to the temple after dark and the experience is really different. We start the purification rite by changing into sarongs which are required to enter the temple compound. Our friend Wayan leads us through the ritual, first by entering the pool where the sacred water flows out of decorative spouts.

At each spout we splash water on our face three times before immersing ourselves completely and saying a prayer. Even though we’re at a Balinese Hindu temple, the similarities to a Christian sacrament are remarkable.

When we emerge from the pool, we take small offerings into the inner temple area and sit before one of the priests. The priest leads us in prayer and then offers us each holy water to drink and sprinkle on our heads. After the prayer ceremony, we quietly leave the temple grounds.

It’s been a long day but we grab some dinner and enjoy the quiet walk back to the villa. Tomorrow will be a day in transit as we head up to the mountains.


Bali 2016 – Our Team

Last year’s service trip was really special because we had an “all family” group. Our daughter Kristianna and her friend Steve, our son Bennet and his friend Ruby, and our son Adam and his wife Heidi. Adam and Heidi had never joined us before so they finally got to experience firsthand the beauty of Bali and its people.

This year’s group is special as well. We’re thrilled to have our ace teacher trainer Sharon back with us after a few year’s absence. Sharon is a full-time kindergarten teacher so she really connects with the teachers in Bali.

Sharon preparing for teacher training

Also joining us are our close friends Patricia and Paul and their daughters Bridget and Megan. The young women are interested in nursing careers so we’ve connected them with a clinic in Ubud where they will volunteer their time while we’re there.

Patricia and Paul with daughters Bridget and Megan

The final American member of this year’s group is Mike’s sister Katy. Katy recently moved back to SoCal after living in NYC for ten years and we demanded that she take some extra time and join our merry band in Bali. She readily agreed!


Of course our trip would not be possible without our local Balinese support team. Wayan is our driver, fixer, confidant and enthusiastic go-to guy. We met Wayan on our first trip eight years ago and we’ve been blessed by his companionship ever since. Kathryn was honored to attend his wedding last December (only westerner in attendance!).

Wayan rockin’ his Earth House t-shirt

Rounding out our team is Iluh, our site coordinator in the Munduk region. Iluh is really the secret weapon of The Heart, Mind & Soul Project. She screens each student for need and delivers the funding for their uniforms, school supplies and all fees for their education. That’s a big job for 63 students in addition to working full-time for the tourism ministry and raising her two young children. No wonder we call her our Wonder Woman!

Michael, Kathryn and Iluh (yes, she’s only 4′-10″)

Tomorrow we drive to Munduk for the sponsored student party. We expect about 150 people so stay tuned for the report on all the festivities.