With the exception of their year-long mission trip to Central America, 19 Kids and Counting star Jill Duggar and her husband, Derick Dillard, have always called Arkansas home. But in recent photos the couple has shared to Instagram — one of them kissing on Pikes Peak, and another of Jill taking her boys for a long walk to a Colorado Springs Chick-fil-A — had some people wondering, did Jill Duggar move to Colorado? Now that Jill and Derick are no longer involved in the filming of the Duggar family reality show spin-off, Counting On, social media is really the only way that fans can keep track of what the couple is up to.
But while it would be pretty big news in the Duggar world if they were to relocate (with the exception of Jinger, who lives in Texas, all of Jill's siblings still live in Arkansas), the couple shared in a blog post on Saturday that, actually, they were visiting the state temporarily on yet another mission trip, according to In Touch Weekly.
In the post, Jill and Derick wrote that they packed up their sons, Israel and Samuel, and "caravanned with a group of about 20 people from Northwest Arkansas" to support the newly-established church, The Bridge Fellowship, "as part of Derick’s School of Ministry training."
Jill and Derick explained that they'd decided to travel to Colorado as a family so that they could be together for Israel's third birthday, which took place during the week they were away. That meant that "Jill and the boys stayed at the hotel some," while Derick took part in various ministry activities, according to the post, like volunteering at a local food pantry, and delivering meals to homeless individuals. The couple also wrote that, during the trip, "Derick was even able to lead one man in giving his life to Christ."
As uplifting as that may sound though, it seems that it didn't come without at least some backlash. For one, on one of the days when Jill seemed to be on her own with her boys, she posted a selfie to Instagram and wrote that she'd walked "1hr. 10 min with both boys" to go get lunch. In all fairness, she was unfamiliar with the area and didn't have a car, so it's not that difficult to think that the trip ended up taking much longer than she may have expected it to, but many people grilled her in the comments for making her 3-year-old walk, and for taking her boys out without hats and sunglasses.
One angry follower wrote,
Walking an hour w/out sun protection for fast food to serve the kiddos, by yourself, near the highway & fuel exhaust & you’re praising your mommy skills?
While another asked,
Did you make Izzy walk that far? An hour and change is a long way for a 3 year old. I hope he thought it was worth it. Sam was strapped in a car seat in the sun. Pin a medal on this great mom."
By now Jill likely has a pretty tough skin when it comes to critical Instagram comments — the couple has faced a lot of backlash over the past year, particularly in connection to their missionary work. In March, for example the couple was criticized for taking their 9-month-old son to Guadalajara, Mexico, on a mission trip, according to In Touch Weekly, despite the fact that the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning in January that advised Americans to "reconsider travel" to the area, according to CBS News. While in the city, the couple helped launch a new church, according to In Touch Weekly, and practiced "street evangelism," going out in public to spread their message to passersby.
Then there was also the controversy surrounding Derick's mission work in general: in November, he started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000 for a one-year program in the Cross Church School of Ministry, but, unsurprisingly, not everyone was on board. Many social media users criticized the couple for asking for money, and some even took to donating to Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ organizations in Jill and Derick's names (TLC ultimately cut ties with Derick after he made anti-transgender comments about reality star Jazz Jennings on Twitter in November).
Jill and Derick definitely seem to court a lot of controversy these days, and it seems like a pretty far cry from the early days of their marriage, when Jill's position as a Duggar fan-favorite helped lead to the creation of the spin-off show (Counting On initially followed Jill and her sister Jessa, as they both adjusted to newlywed life). But even if you aren't a fan of Jill and Derick, there is a least one detail of their trip to Colorado that should earn them some sympathy from fellow parents: in their blog post, the couple wrote that both of their boys caught colds at the beginning of the trip, and by the end, the whole family was sick (nothing like pre-planned travel to ensure that your children come down with something awful!).
At this point, it looks like the Dillards are officially back home in Arkansas, and for now, they haven't indicated that they have any upcoming mission trips on their calendar. But while they may no longer be on TV, it seems that so long as they continue to keep up an active social media presence, they can still expect a fair bit of public criticism coming their way.
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