Today’s destination was Brighton, a bayside suburb to the north of Brisbane, where we visited Tony in his new home. It’s wonderful to continue our friendship with Tony and hear of the blessings and changes that have happened to him over the past six months.

Tony’s wife Lian is away for a month, visiting her parents in China, so we didn’t get to see her during this visit. However, the gardens speak strongly of her presence.

Sitting with Tony Mansfield in his garage, September 2011
This is the first time we've visited Tony's new home, and it was great to see his new place and catch up with all his news.

With such a beautiful, warm day on offer, we headed to the nearby waterfront to catch the sea breezes and bask in the sun. This is the first time we’ve been near water since returning to Australia, and our daughters were happy to hear that we were heading to the beach!

Tony and David fixing the electrical cable, September 2011
David used our cooker to heat up a pair of pliers which were then used to solder an electrical connection on the lead. Then we could use the battery to power our stereo — perfect for music at the park!

Delaney, 20 months old, sleeping, September 2011
Delaney naps in her Dell Box in the trailer. It's wonderful having a bed with us to put her in wherever we are.

Colourful dog at Brighton Beach, September 2011
The girls were entranced by this colourful little dog.

Smout Bridge, Brighton, September 2011
From our location, we enjoyed terrific views of the new bridge connecting Redcliffe to Brighton.

David and Tony, September 2011
Sharing in the lives of others is what we like to do most.

Girls on the beach, September 2011
Down at the beach, the girls created elaborate faces in the sand. Aisha and Calista like to work in tandem — here Calista was fetching dry, white sand to decorate the eyes in Aisha's sculpted face.

Delaney, 20 months old, September 2011
Dell likes to join in with her sisters' games.

Brioni and Delaney in the water, September 2011
When the older girls started playing in the water, Delaney soon joined in too.

While the girls were playing in the water, they were approached by a dog that bears a remarkable resemblance to our old beloved Misty from certain angles. When I approached the owner to talk to him, out of the blue we shared a special conversation — not about dogs — but about unschooling!

Although he was a professor of cosmology and had been a teacher for 59 years, his comment was that institutional education is tantamount to child abuse. I didn’t bring up the subject — it was hard to get a word in edgewise — and this was his comment, not mine. David and I view these kind of encounters as messages confirming that we’re on the right path. It was bizarre in its relevance to us — to have a stranger approach me and speak so directly about such a central heart issue.

After such an encounter, it’s not so hard to believe that God is in everyone, and all our stories are written by one hand.

Our girls with a dog that looks like Misty, September 2011
When the dog approached, our girls were wary but not scared.

Our girls with a dog that looks like Misty, September 2011
After encouragement from the dog's owner, we all enjoyed patting Shasa.

When the dog continued on its way, play resumed.

Our girls playing on the beach, September 2011
When Aisha decided to cover her legs with mud, her sisters were eager to join in.

Aisha in the water, September 2011
When she'd had enough, Aisha took a stool and sat on it in the shallow water to wash her legs clean.

Our girls playing on the beach, September 2011
Throwing mud is always fun too.

Calista picking up a jellyfish, September 2011
At one section of the beach, we discovered several jellyfish and had fun examining and then squishing them.

Delaney in the tub, September 2011
At the end of the afternoon, we heated some water for a tub bath to wash away all the mud and sand.

This is the first time that we’ve enjoyed the beach at Brighton. With Tony’s company, we particularly enjoyed today’s outing and we’re looking forward to returning again soon!