‘Counting On’ Season 9 Episode 9 Recap: Fun in The Philippines & a Fundie Spring Break Trip

“I still don’t understand why I couldn’t fly the plane to The Philippines. I AM a pilot, in case you didn’t know!”

Note from The Ashley: Yes, just like every married Duggar girl at least once a year, this ‘Counting On’ recap is late. The Ashley is trying her best to catch up on her recapping! The recap of the ‘Counting On’ season finale wedding extravaganza will be up soon! 

On this episode of Counting On, Kendra and Joe “get wild” in Panama Beach, Florida,  Jackson steps out from being a “background kid” to take his driving lesson from a local cop who must have really been hurting for some extra cash, and  John and Abbie go on a mission trip because…Duggars.

We kick things off in Panama City, one of the great Spring Break capitals of the world! Who better to enjoy the sun, sand and sin of a great party town than… Joe and Kendra Duggar…and her family.

“Don’t let me catch you looking at those Satan-y swimmers, Pastor!”

The entire Caldwell Clan has packed up their sunscreen and modest swimsuits to enjoy the beach life for a week. Joe is excited to tag along (but also probably extremely nervous, given how many times someone will yell “NIKE!” and he’ll have to avert his eyes from all the beach harlots!) 

The Caldwells are eating a beachy lunch…out of sand buckets (as you do). Joe is passing around the buckets to various Caldwell spawn, most likely wondering how the hell he’s going to be able to lick the bucket clean when he’s finished eating!

“But my tongue don’t reach all the way down to the bottom of the bucket!”

While the group stuffs their faces with sandwiches, chips and random snacks out of sand buckets, we learn that the Caldwells take this trip every year to relax. Kendra and Joe were not able to attend the festivities the previous year, though, because they were off licking plates (and knocking boots!) in Greece on their honeymoon.

Joe says he’s not so much for the beach and such, but he’s willing to get his toes sandy because it makes Kendra happy to get wet. 

I said what I said….

The crew packs up an obnoxious amount of beaching gear and sets out to the sand.

“I don’t really know how to pack. We always just have Jana do all this stuff…”

While loading up the entire Walmart summer section onto their rolling cart, Kendra tells the producers that the Caldwell girls’ typical beachwear consists of a swim shirt and swim skirt. However, this year they’ll be rocking both swim skirts and swim leggings.

Jessa then shares the swim trends of the Duggar family whom also abide by the old adage, “more is more.” We are treated to a flashback scene from 2011 in which the Dug girls are all splish-splashing in their modesty swimwear…while trying not to drown in all that material. 

Speaking of “more,” Kendra’s mom (who could honestly pass as her twin sister) is currently 28 weeks pregnant. Kendra tells producers how much closer she and her mom have become now that she’s a mom, too. Then they both awkwardly giggle at absolutely nothing. 

Kendra says that she’s now an old pro at the slip and slide process of labor and delivery. She does, however, giggle and say that she’s OK to wait for a while before the next spawn blasts out of her baby chute.

Is that a beachball in your shirt or are you just a 45-year-old Fundie woman?

In an effort to liven up the beach trip, Kendra’s dad decides the family (sans pregnant mom) should split up for a sandcastle-building contest. They decide the winner of the contest will be the team who builds the tallest structure.

(Anyone else wish the cameras were panned out a bit more on occasion to show the other beach revelers who were most likely gawking at this group of overdressed Fundies and their Brady Bunch-esque good clean family fun? All that was missing was a potato sack race on the sand and Johnny Bravo singing sweet tunes about the ocean!)

“Raise your hand if all the clothes you’re wearing are cutting off your circulation!”

The Caldwells scramble to create the best sand mound (which some drunken Spring Breaker will probably end up passed out face-first in by night’s end.) While they may seem lame for spending time doing this, we must realize that we are worse because WE ARE WATCHING THEM DO THIS. We are legit devoting time out of our day to watch people build sandcastles. Sigh. 

In the end, the winner of this super-climatic contest is Kendra’s dad’s team. As part of the deal, the winning team gets to bury Joe in the sand, which honestly looks a lot less uncomfortable than having to hear Kendra call her parents “mommy” and “daddy” all day. 

I will not make an erection joke…I will NOT make an erection joke…

Over in Texas, Jeremy, Jinger and their carry-on (Felicity) are getting ready to fly out to see Jeremy’s family. Jeremy says traveling with a baby is much more challenging than traveling as a party of two, so to make him appreciate how good he has it, the producers ask about traveling 19-kids-deep (à la Duggar) which shuts Jeremy up faster than Jim Bob at a women’s rights march.

Our thoughts exactly.

We’re then treated to some vintage Duggar-traveling clips and learn that the family once lost Jackson at a airport. Everyone laughs about it but…then we see that, at the time he was “Home Alone’d” in the airport, poor Jackson was only about three years old. 


It’s one thing to lose a kid but you legit lost a baby, Duggars! WTF?

Also racking up frequent flier miles are John-David and Abbie. They, along with two of Abbie’s sisters, are heading to the Philippines for a mission trip. When a producer asks why the H-E- double hockey sticks anyone would go on an international mission trip weeks before their wedding, John explains that this mission trip—which was planned a long time ago— is responsible for their relationship.

John and Abbie explain that John was looking to bring some nurses on the trip. Abbie had been itchin’ to do some medical mission trips but had never had the opportunity. Enter ol’ Jim Bob and Michelle, who, along with Abbie’s parents, arranged for Abbie to be one of the nurses to go along on the trip. Once Abbie met John and got a load of his sweaty bangs, it was love at first sight! A minute later, the two were courting and, about a week later, Abbie found herself getting proposed to in an airport hanger.

Tale as old as time…

They finally arrive in The Philippines, and we know this because they have filtered in some stereotypical East Asian-sounding music to play over footage of John wandering through the airport looking as lost as three-year-old Jackson.

John is obviously upset (and sweaty) because he had to fly (gasp!) commercial…

As a licensed nurse, Abbie is thrilled to be back in her element and helping others. She sadly tells the producers that a few months ago she left her nursing job in Oklahoma to begin planning her wedding. She says that she and John will be living in Arkansas after they’re married. 

Abbie is very emotional and you can tell she did not want to leave her nursing job behind to become another Duggar woman baby-making machine. The producer asks her if she has plans to go back to work at any point and if so, if John would support it. Abbie says yes to both questions. 

“Yep… just as soon as John signs my permission slip.”

John confirms that he’s all for Abbie continuing to work as a nurse once they’re married. This proves that, despite the sweaty bangs and Jim-Bob-esque wardrobe, John may be the most progressive Dug man yet!

John gives us a tour of the village that they are “medical missioning” at. He says that the people there are getting medical care, while others have to listen to him and the non-nurses “share the gospel.” 

“If these heathens want the free healthcare, they’re gonna have to listen to me sing a God song or two!”

Across the world at the Duggar Compound, an assortment of Duggar background men are getting ready to join Jackson for a driving lesson. While Jackson is still only 14 (and most likely still recovering from the trauma of being ditched at the airport years ago), he is allowed to obtain a driving permit.

John tells us that, in the state of Arkansas, 14-year-olds are perfectly safe to drive on the road as long as they have a permit and a willing adult passenger.

“Most Duggars get their permits at 14,” he says.

Even more frightening, Jackson tells producers he’s been practicing driving for about three years already. The other guys joke that they have to bring some pillows for Jackson to sit on so he can reach the steering wheel.

Between home births and car booster seats, the bedding in this family really goes through it.

Jana is in disbelief that Jackson— the little boy Michelle she raised is already at driving age. She feels sad that her siblings kids are growing up.

After stuffing their gullets with trays of bacon, the guys load up in one of their “Stranger-Danger” vans and head to the police department so Jackson can get some driving tips from an officer. 

“Your tax dollars, hard at work, ladies and gents!”

We have to sit through a long, drawn-out driving lesson that is as riveting as watching Pastor Hottie Caldwell & Co. build sandcastles.

Back in the Philippines, Abbie is on a mission to try the local cuisine, which includes chili ice cream. (So much for that sugar-free, gluten-free lifestyle, huh?)

Abbie tells us that, while she enjoyed some of the local food, others were downright gross, including a horrible leek/meat/tofu concoction. (That sounds like a Jill Dillard recipe, eh?) 

“It was the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth!” Abbie declares.

“Wait until the honeymoon…that may change!”

Soon after, the group boards a plane to head back home. John tells the producers that once he and Abbie are married, he sees a lot more missions in their future, though in Duggar World, the only mission they seem to be able to commit to is the missionary position.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, the Vuolos make their way over to Jeremy’s grandparents’ house to introduce them to Felicity. Jeremy’s grandmother nearly faints upon meeting her great-granddaughter and Felicity looks just as excited to meet her as well. (She’s probably thrilled to meet a family member who isn’t named Duggar and doesn’t lick plates.)

“I don’t know who you are old lady, but I’m sure glad you don’t look like Jim Bob!”

It’s honestly so cute to see the grandma so overjoyed about the baby. She is almost crying as she holds Felicity. This never happens in Duggarville, of course, because Jim-Bob and Michelle basically get a new grandkid every six months, so it’s kind of old-hat at this point for them.

Jeremy’s friends come over to meet the baby, and Jinger chats with her friend Kara about when she will pumping out Grandkid #450 for the Dugs. Jinger says she’s starting to get into a routine with Felicity but is leaning towards enjoying her downtime rather than having a second baby right away. 

Somewhere in Arkansas, Michelle just fainted into a pile of jean skirts. 

“If you need downtime so bad, I might be able to loan Jana out for a weekend or two.”

On the next episode of ‘Counting On,’ Jana single-handedly puts together an entire hangar reception and John and Abbie finally tie the knot!

To read our previous ‘Counting On’ recaps, click here! 

(Photos: TLC) 


  1. This week’s pictures and captions were THE BEST!! That sand picture with Joseph buried – O.M.G. I was rolling!!

  2. Grandma meeting Felicity has to be one of the sweetest moments I’ve witnessed on TV! Your recap is hilarious as always, Ashley!

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