A21 Campaign Walk for Freedom in Copenhagen

From the A21 Campaign website:
“Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings, mainly for the purposes of forced labor and sex trafficking. As the world’s fastest growing criminal industry, it affects every nation across the globe. Every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim of modern-day slavery.

There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 27 million in bondage across the globe. Men, women, and children are being exploited for manual and sexual labor against their will.”

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On October 18 in cities all over the world people participated in the A21 Campaign’s Walk for Freedom.  Anne, Annette and I were thankful we got to walk it together in Copenhagen.  It was such an amazing experience.  We had about 250 ladies from Hillsong Church Copenhagen walking in a single file line, not saying a word, wearing black hoodies.  We definitely got some attention!  You couldn’t miss us.  People walking, driving, riding on buses and bikes did double takes and stared trying to figure out what we were doing.  It’s definitely not the norm to intentionally try to get people to stare at you, especially when you’re in a foreign city.  Some guys from Hillsong joined us and helped by passing out flyers and telling people what we were up to.  They shared with people the statistics of this global problem.  Awareness is a huge piece of the puzzle as the A21 Campaign strives to end slavery in our lifetime.

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The reactions we got were so interesting to observe.  I saw one man’s eyebrows go up, shocked to read that only 1-2% of the 27 MILLION slaves are ever rescued.  This is unacceptable.  I watched another woman read the flyer then bend down to get on her son’s level and explain to him why we were there.  We walked by two beautiful blonde girls playing in the park and couldn’t help but think the average age of a trafficking victim is 12 YEARS OLD.  You can’t help but tear up thinking of that reality.  Some people shrugged and didn’t make eye contact indicating they weren’t interested.  But the majority of people we passed were interested and open as to why these 250 women were walking silently through their city.
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Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth,
judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8&9

*I didn’t take these photos – the guys from Hillsong Church did!*

European Adventure Part 2: Croatia

Immediately after I booked my round trip ticket to Copenhagen to see Annette, we had to decide where to go on a side trip.  We wanted to visit somewhere we had never visited before and were open to suggestions.  We landed on Croatia!  And soooo glad we did.Croatia-3
Here’s our cute apartment we booked with airbnb.com.  Located in the Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia, right near the coast.Croatia-4
And this was where our apartment was located. I mean, c’mon, REALLY!?  These small alleys made up the entire old town and we would just wander around and explore.  Beautiful!Croatia-5

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One day we took a trip to Montenegro.  Why not add another country to our list and get another passport stamp?  We drove on the windy roads along the Adriatic and stopped at Kotor and Budva.  More and more beautiful scenery to take in!
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Back to Old Town, if you like Game of Thrones, the town probably looks familiar.  This is where they film it!  (I’ve never seen it!)Croatia-38 Croatia-37 Croatia-36Dinner at a restaurant up on the side of the hill!  We called ahead because our dinner, “peka,” took 3 hours to prepare.  This was a good recommendation from Annette’s friends!Croatia-35 Croatia-34
One day we island hopped and stopped on three islands:  Kolocep, Sipan, and Lopud. Croatia-26
When we booked the boat trip to the islands, they asked us what kind of lunch we wanted.  Anne and I opted for vegetarian.  Annette chose fish.  I think she regretted that decision.Croatia-33 Croatia-32 Croatia-31 Croatia-30 Croatia-29
Cats!  Everywhere in Croatia!  (Even on the islands, bleh)Croatia-28 Croatia-27
Seafood platter for dinner, Annette was ready to dive in.  Croatia-25
It was COLD, but I can check “swim in the Adriatic” off my bucket list.Croatia-23

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The Old Town is where we stayed – the land that’s  jutting out into the water
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All of these photos of the rooftops were taken as we walked on the walls that surround the Old Town, it took us about two hours.  LOTS of stairs but incredible, amazing views! Croatia-22 Croatia-21   Croatia-18 Croatia-17 Croatia-16 Croatia-14
Grape vines and olive trees all over this area!Croatia-13 Croatia-12 Croatia-11 Croatia-10
During our walk around the city walls we bought art from the sweetest Croatian man, love talking to locals!Croatia-9
New and old.Croatia-8 Croatia-7
We ate our breakfast here every morning.  I know.  We’re spoiled.  Rotten.
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SUCH an awesome trip with Annette and Anne!  Will never forget it and feel so blessed that we were able to go.

European Adventure Part 1: Copenhagen

My best friend, Annette, has been living in Copenhagen for almost 2 years teaching at an international school.   I HAD to go pay her a visit!  A free place to stay in Europe with my best friend?  Yes, please!
Yep, we’ve been friends since kindergarten… have we changed much??
Denmark-01The 6 month long wait was over!  I was finally heading to Copenhagen for the first time.  (After meeting up with Anne at the airport in Toronto :)Denmark-1
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Annette was ready for us with a checklist of Danish things we must do during our stay!….Denmark-15
We got quite a few of the food items checked off the first half hour we were there!  The open faces sandwiches (smørrebrød) are a Danish thing so we just dove in and ordered pickled herring our first meal there.  And were pleasantly surprised.
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There’s no better way to fight jet lag then to ride your bike ALL over the city your first day!  A large percentage of people in Copenhagen use their bike as their primary mode of transportation.  Such a perfect way for us to see the city!
It was funny seeing people dressed up for work on their bikes, bikes with “strollers’ attached to cart their kiddos around and people carrying shopping bags – much more coordinated than me!
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These were taken in the interesting little hippie town of Christiania,  a “self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents.”  The people watching was fantastic!  Favorite pastimes there are yoga, meditation and smoking pot ;) Denmark-3
Some random differences in the culture…
…people there don’t say “excuse me.”  If you’re on the metro and someone needs to get off they move so you move.  The whole time I was there I’d say “excuse me” if I bumped into someone or needed someone to move with no response :) But then any Danish person we met was so nice!  Not a rude thing, just a cultural thing, I guess!
…the Danes have less words than we do.  For example, they have the word “sad” while we have “sad, disappointed, upset, frustrated” and on and on.
…I SO appreciated that people weren’t as stuck to their phones as we are here in the states.  We would be out with people and everyone was in the moment.
…I loved the simple apartments and living spaces.  The grocery stores don’t have a million choices of salad dressing or pickles. The Danish designers all tend to have clean, beautiful designs from buildings to kitchenware.  Simplicity.  I like it.
-The Danes think it’s silly that we greet people with, “Hi, how are you?” when we really don’t expect a full answer of how you’re doing :)
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The little mermaid was not at the top of my list, but I guess you have to see her while you’re there! Denmark-11We’re SOOOO excited to be in Denmark!Denmark-8Here’s where the queen lives, she’s not home :)  If she was there would be a flag flying!Denmark-7
Annette letting us know how happy she is to be eating danishes with us.  We stopped at lots of bakeries and sweet shops because you must eat danishes in Denmark, right?Denmark-16
I got to meet Annette’s kiddos and teacher friends.  We went on a field trip to Deer Park, then back to the classroom to read before the end of the day.
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Kids can’t sit like normal people in ANY country that you’re in…. :)Denmark-18This girl loves a french hot dog from the street vendors. (And when I say “this girl” I mean Annette)  Denmark-29
We took the train north of Copenhagen and visited Kronborg Castle.  So beautiful near the coast!Denmark-26   Denmark-23 Denmark-22 Denmark-21 Denmark-20
And we were only a 20 minute ferry ride from Sweden, so what the heck….Denmark-24

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Ok, Anne and I were loving hygge in Denmark!  Pronounced “HOO-gah” there’s not a literal translation to English, but the best way I can describe it is a feeling of contentment, peace, coziness.  Maybe this will help.  Candles and hanging out with family or friends are a must!Denmark-30
“Gammel Dansk” meaning “Old Danish” is a drink they usually take a shot of at breakfast!  No thanks.  (Guess that means I can’t be Danish)  But I’ll drink it at midnight to celebrate Annette’s 33RD birthday!Denmark-31
Here’s Annette’s birthday gift I asked Emily at Texture Design Co to customize for her.  Annette teared up when she got it!  Visit Emily’s Etsy shop, she’s got some really original and unique designs! Denmark-32
We took a side trip to Croatia for a few days (and it was beautiful!!)   Photos from that trip will be posted soon so stay tuned…

Get $100 OFF a family shoot this fall!

FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM!
“melissagriffinphotography”
between NOW AND OCTOBER 21 at NOON

I will choose a new follower at random and they will receive $100 off a family shoot this fall!

It’s that time of year again… here in Charleston the weather is cooling down
and it’s the PERFECT time to take family photos for Christmas cards!

You can see more of my work here on my blog, at my website, pinterest or facebook page.

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To enter to win this discounted photo session…
Follow me on Instagram before October 21 at NOON
(if you already follow me and want to enter, un-follow then follow again!)
Contestants need to live in Charleston area or be willing to drive to Charleston area for photo shoot (within 30 miles)
I will tag the winner in an Instagram post on October 21.
We’ll plan your session for sometime before December 15, 2014.

The cost of your session will be a total of $150 which includes the photo shoot, editing and 20 color images (and some black and whites, too!)

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Good luck!  Can’t wait to work with you and your family!

Ortel Family

The Ortel family made the trip from New York City to Charleston for a family vacation and asked me to take their photos.  Little Grady was VERY interested in getting his hands on my camera [fun buttons to push!] and followed me around as I was shooting,. So happy for this family that he’ll be a big brother soon!
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Sullivan

This handsome little guy, Sullivan, recently turned Jon and Brandi’s family of two to three!  He is perfect.  I really enjoyed getting to know Jon and Brandi.  Brandi is a cancer survivor and I’m so encouraged by her story.  She works for the American Cancer Society and organizes events in the Charleston area.  Go check them out!
Sullivan-1 Sullivan-2 Sullivan-3 Sullivan-4 Sullivan-5Jon and Brandi are huge Zac Brown Band fans, hence the hat!… (Love the “stop with the paparazzi shots” pose)Sullivan-6 Sullivan-7 Sullivan-9 Sullivan-10 Sullivan-11