Saturday, July 26, 2008


VBS Arts and Crafts

A kindred spirit -- what a gift!

One of the dearest men you'll ever meet (actually both men are!)

Gameboy's a hit no matter where you are

Ahhh, a favorite friend of everyone's

Whoa. The kids got to see their friend and his amazing catch!

My Ivory Carving Friend. We love him so! (Is it the sun in my eyes or just sleepy?)

Such patience and love she has

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Picture Me!"

Village Shot

Bible School Singing

Midnight Sunset (when we all came out to take pictures there were probably 40 kids on the playground still playing!)

Our friend John and dinner

John and Charlie

Randy's Cracker Cake (we spelled out his name and age)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last Chapter*

I have quietly made my way down to the hotel lobby this morning to spend some time writing and drinking coffee in a real coffee cup (instead of styrofoam). It truly is the little things in life that provide real joy!

Nothing this past week, however, has been little. Relationships went deeper. The Word of God was alive and active. The Holy Spirit was palpitable. Goodbyes much harder.

There are too many tales to tell. So many would make for incredible writing -- truly, the stuff that novels are made of. But these are also the stories that are most personal and most treasured. When another shares life so deeply and so honestly, it is a gift from God to be protected and cherished.

Yesterday, friends began arriving at the school early. Most touching was a teenager who walked in rubbing sleepy dust from his eyes. I made my way to him offering coffee and small talk. Being friendly he quietly asked "where is your husband?" He, sleep-loving teenager, had gotten up early to come say goodbye to his friend. Spending only a few minutes together, he simply wanted one more goodbye.

Our good friend sat and talked with a team member about hunting and fishing as I separated leftover food and supplies into tubs for friends. Our friend is quiet and funny. He hung around until we loaded ourselves in pick-up trucks to make our way to the airport. We locked eyes and hugged and he would not let go. We did not exchange any words, only tears.

Another friend offered rides to the airport and after a few moments of small talk while we watched our planes come in said "I need to leave now. I don't want to be here when you take off."

Saying goodbye to our long-time friends, instrumental in getting our group into the village six years ago, was tough. None of us knows what a year will bring in our lives.

Teenagers loaded into the back of a pick-up and on 4-wheelers after we boarded and had us laughing by blowing kisses, waving wildly, and even doing "the wave" (something we had done in the teen Bible School class the day before).

"Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord." was all I could think as our plane took off. I leaned my head against the side of the plane and cried for a long while. And as I sat leaning with eyes closed I pictured myself leaning on the shoulder of Christ who, smiling with arm tightly around me, lovingly stroked my hair. It was well with my soul.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18.

*Thank you for reading this blog. I started this web journal in May to get the hang of a weblog before running our God errand. And now that we are heading home, it's time to give the blog a rest. Someone on the team asked our son during the week if he was anxious about something happening the next day. He replied that he hadn't even thought of tomorrow yet. He was living in the moment. And as I return to my regular life at home, that is my live in the moment and treasure and nurture the wonderful relationships in my life at home.

God's blessing on you!

Monday, July 21, 2008


We arrived in Anchorage about 30 minutes ago. Tired and totally spent, but so very joyful.

Very difficult to say goodbye to good friends today.

More later--thanks for all the prayers!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Early Riser

Well, life has been pretty busy in Alaska. I have so many things I want to say, but I am reminded of the many things I've got to get done this morning, so I'll keep this brief. But at least you'll know I haven't been eaten by the bears.

As the song leader for Bible School, I have the distinct privilege of seeing the childen's faces while they are singing and dancing. We begin at 1:00 but children start coming to the church as early 12:00. By 1:00, someone on the team usually has to guard the door as the children begin pushing on it, hard, to get in. Yesterday the opening song was started and from my place up front I saw at least 25 children running into the church to get seats up front. (The custom here is to start seating in the back rows first, so for children to run to sit up front at church, no less, is incredible.)

The daily dramas and puppet show have been well received, as has been the village picnic (held inside due to weather -- I've never inquired about the wind chill in July until this year!). We had a women's prayer and tea time last night which was literally the Bible come to life in front of our eyes...sisters in the faith coming together to encourage and build each other up. It really was a glimpse of heaven -- no barriers, no differences, no awkardness...we were one in Christ. I am continually amazed how God takes new friendships to unbelievable depths in such a short time. I am so grateful.

We had movie night last night. The church elder dinner the night before. Arts and games in the afternoons and basketball, too. Basketball in the evenings. A church elder pulled Steve aside the other day to talk. A friend and I prayed back at the school when Steve still hadn't returned after 30 minutes. We were thinking that we had somehow overstepped our bounds or done something wrong, but when Steve returned he was beaming. The church elder shared that all the elders love what our church does in the village. Sunday school attendance is up after we leave. Steve was asked if the elders could invite other villages to come and participate in the future? And could we consider taking our unique Bible School program to 22 other villages? Humbling. God could do all this on His own, but He loves having us take part...and I'm so glad He does!

We haven't had many moments to catch our breath, but that's how it should be. We are here for such a short time and don't want to miss any opportunities for building relationships with the children and adults. And while I'm looking forward to my own bed and our hot shower, and our dog Quincy...and our home, I am already dreading saying goodbye.

Friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them. Last night after tea and prayer, 15 very different women joined hands and sang several songs...some in Yup'ik, some in English, some in both languages. The last notes were sung straight from our hearts and straight to the heart of God.

God is so good.
God is so good.
God is so good, He's so good to me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gym Floor Sleeping

Need. To. Go. To. Bed.

Team arrived yesterday afternoon--ye-ha! Always great to see them. Our friend alerted us after hearing about their whereabouts on the VHF (CB-like radios in each house that chatter all day -- everything from "Robby come home now" to "9 Ohio people coming in on Grant Airlines in 15 minutes").

Around 8:30 a new kindred spirit arrived seeing if I wanted to sit down together and study God's Word. Of course! A de-lightful, amazing 2 hours we had and can I just tell you we laughed our heads off together? We have the same zany way of seeing the world and our faith walks. I'll have to write more later about how God introduced us because our friendship is a miracle. The only downer (and it was well worth it) was drinking a cup of coffee around 9:00. I knew I shouldn't but I did.

And I paid for that dose of night-time caffeine.

1:30 AM people! Finally started dozing when nighttime noises, from many people sharing sleeping quarters, began revving up.

2:00 AM headed to the gymnasium with my air mattress, sleeping bag and pillow.

Have I told you how creepy the school gymnasium is at night? When it's dark? And you're all alone?

So I kept the gym lights on. And since people came and went on their way to the bathrooms, and into the kitchen (water?) at odd times, I cocooned inside my sleeping bag. I heard several early risers ask each other "whose body is that under there?"

And then I woke up. At 6:00 AM.

So now I'm going to bed. I know you understand. I'll fill you in Bible School and various and sundry other things tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This and That

This morning I'm sitting here in the school cafeteria sipping coffee while the boys play their GameBoys. Steve is watching them shoot their enemies (on GameBoy, of course) and Madison is still sleeping. In a little while we'll all take showers and get gussied up for the rest of our team. They stayed in Anchorage last night and will fly in sometime this afternoon. We are ready and excited to see them!

Yesterday we concluded our part of programming for the village kids and spent last evening sorting and organizing our supplies. We had begun this process last week, but when the other team came we decided to wait. I have also been assuming the construction workers would arrive any day now and they, too, would sleep in the school. No sight of them yet but the week is young.

I invited a little friend to sing at our Praise and Worship Service on Thursday evening. (She is the one going through the health scare right now.) She sang in church on Sunday and had I let myself, I would have just sat there and sobbed like a baby during her song. For there she stood, the only child wearing a hat, singing the old hymn "The Way That He Loves." She began the song by thanking Jesus for "loving me just the way I am." I would guess that a hush fell over heaven as she made her way to the front of the church.

When she and I were chatting yesterday she asked me if I saw all the people in church crying while she sang her song. I told her that no, I hadn't because I was seated up front. I asked her why she thought people cried when she sang, and she shrugged her shoulders. I shared my hunch with her: "I think we cried because your voice is so beautiful and sweet sounding...and because you reminded us how very much Jesus loves each one of us. And when people think about that, it makes some of us cry."

Each one of us has always been loved. The Way That He loves us is a miracle.

I'm glad God whispered His love to me through a child singing the other night. It seems He enjoys sending us His love through little ones. Whether in Bethlehem 2000 years ago or in a small fishing village today.

I love the way that He loves me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fresh Salmon & Smores

I was walking home today after choir practice (you should hear me slaughter the native language) when I heard my name being called from the back of a pick-up. As I turned around I saw our good friends barreling down the road hollering "we're picking you up to take you upriver...your family is waiting!"

So I hopped in the back with their two youngest children and their dog Scrappy (a golden lab with 6 inch legs) and off we flew to pick up the rest of my family. Once we were all loaded in the back of the truck ("grab extra sweatshirts! grab the camera! grab the lifejacket!") we headed to two boats with outboard motors and headed upriver to have a picnic.


And did I say peaceful? And quiet? Oh my. Other than the mosquitoes (really bad) it was sheer bliss. We gathered driftwood and our friend chopped it up and built a campfire. Hot dogs and marshmallows soon followed. Some of the best tasting food I've ever eaten. We sat in peace sharing funny stories and learning about the river. Salmon would jump every so often in front of us. Water crystal clear to the bottom.

Fishing poles were assembled and before we knew what was happening, a 10 pound salmon was being wrapped in tin foil and placed on the hot coals. Children ran to tell us about "the one that got away!" A little while later we all gathered around the foil pack and picked and ate our way through that delicious fish. Yes, I (who normally doesn't care for salmon) am saying that this fish was delicious!

We had to come back for church (conducted in a different language) as we had to make announcements about Vacation Bible School (in English). We let our friends off the hook (pun intended) and insisted they stay and worship in "God's Church by the River". Our friend who boated us back was going to buzz to his house and bring his Bible back to the campfire so that they could do just that.

We are so thankful to the people here, once strangers, who welcome us gladly each year and make our visits extra memorable. Not many people can say they dined on one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world. And we have the extra bonus of having done so with wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ.

As the fish was cooking on the open flame and we were laughing and chatting around the fire, I thought of Jesus and his disciples and all the times they must have dined the same way. And then I realized that He sat with us, too. Today. And I'm guessing He enjoyed the afternoon on the river, and with us, just as much as we did.

Different cultures. Different languages. Different customs. Different people. One body of Christ.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Why Missionaries Have Long Hair

Ok, so I suppose it's good that we can't download pictures as you would see that my short haircut is not cooperating at all while we're here. My family has been teasing me (lovingly, of course) about my "bowl cut". But I have given up most of my vanity while here until last night at church. Somehow our name got put on the list to sing during the song segment of the service. (I had to lean back and ask a native friend if the man actually said "Ohio"). After I revived myself, Madison and I decided we could sing a song we have been practicing for our Praise and Worship Service next week.

So, up we went in front of the whole church. Our daughter looking perfectly clean and well-kept. Her mother, on the other hand, looked like a homeless woman. Hair sticking up in the front. Hair matted down in the back. One short side of hair flipping up and the other side curled under. No makeup and a stained pink sweatshirt (the only one I brought). I was a sight to behold. But we sang our song in front of all those people who may now assume, thanks to me, that all middle-aged white women look like disheveled and scary cave dwellers.

And that's why experienced missionaries grow their hair long.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Thank you to all our prayer warriors who have been lifting up my health today. We have been worried that I may have a kidney stone brewing (which would NOT be a good thing for a variety of reasons), but my backache has eased up this afternoon (stone pain goes from "bad to worse" quickly for me). Thank you for continuing to pray. I do think it's interesting that my backache came on suddenly after leaving the house of a new friend yesterday. Our total discussion was spirit-filled and God glorifying. I am glad I cannot see the spiritual battles going on as people all over the world bring the hope of Jesus to hurting people everywhere.

Afternoon programming went well today. I did little girls' fingernails while Steve and the boys did basketball games. Madison was a human tree letting all sorts of little nuts hang on her :) After ball, we played several really fun and new games. One had us all hysterical with laughter...a relay in which each child had to run down and sit on a balloon trying to get it to pop. Then they would run back and the next child would take his/her turn. One would think a balloon being sat on would pop fast, but it doesn't!

As always, when reaching out to others my own ills faded away. One little friend quietly asked me who drew the princess on her birthday card we sent her last winter. We send a lot of cards, but I recall the card and told her I bought that card at the store just for her. She smiled and said "I still have it." The little girl going through the health scare ran up behind me (I wonder why my back hurts!), threw her arms around my waist and said "I love you!"

Thanks for the prayers. God hears and even if I get a stone, He'll answer in His own way and all will be okay. (Remind me I said this if it actually turns out to be a stone :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rainy Days

Greetings from chilly Alaska! The high today will be 50 degrees with lots of clouds and rain. The most I did yesterday was stick my nose out the door and say "ohhhhhh." But the rain didn't stop the village kids and they all came to play. Many stood outside the school doors for an hour as they didn't remember we had moved the start time back an hour to accomodate the other group staying at the school.

We all had fun chatting in the bleachers during basketball (I haven't had to play yet!) and then singing and playing "volleyball" with our big blow-up ball we brought, and relay races with marshmallows on spoons. We visited with a couple good friends in our room after afternoon activities (we had to sneek them in so the other kids wouldn't feel bad) and one had dinner with us (Campbell's chunky soup, rice, and pilot bread--a thick, bland cracker). Evening brought young adult basketball and a family game of Uno before bed. Everyone slept in this morning and we're taking turns getting warm showers now! I woke up without a raging headache for the first time this morning so, all in all, it's been a great start to the day here in Alaska. In a little bit we'll head to the store to buy a few groceries, a sweatshirt and some winter hats!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tundra News

Good morning from Alaska!

Yesterday was filled with kids' activities and basketball. It's great to re-connect with all of our little friends. So fun to see how they've changed in a year. Some of the teen boys have dramatically changed in appearance and are beginning to look and sound like men. I am always especially touched that the teen girls still seem glad to see this "old lady" from Ohio and freely initiate hugs and smiles when they see me.

I kept one little friend close yesterday during basketball as she is facing some scary health issues. As the afternoon went on, she moved closer and closer to me and finally put both arms around my waist. We laughed and were silly with the other kids and God opened doors for me to touch on her condition in open and light ways. She is a favorite of the team's, so I know their presence next week will encourage her.

No water yesterday and this morning. I would love to wet my hair (at least) as it's looking mighty interesting. I thought I had solved my bed-head mess by wearing a baseball cap yesterday, but the kids enjoyed snatching it off. I told them I would rig up a bonnet with a tie under my chin so they couldn't steal my hat today.

Tried posting some pictures, but blogger wouldn't let me. I'll try again soon. There's a great one of a child holding a dog, but the greatness of the photo lies in the background where the camera caught Madison sitting on the playground equipment with many children hanging on her neck and shoulders. She is a trooper as all the little ones want to be holding her every minute. The boys are having fun riding bikes and playing with their friends.

Bears have been spotted at the old airport, but we haven't seen any. We were shown a dead baby mouse by one of the kids. I went over to look thinking it was going to be a cute little furry thing, but it was a very pink little blob. I don't think the kids realized it was dead and in matters like that we choose not to tell them! Although when asked if they wanted to hold it, all 3 of our kids said a resounding "no, thanks".

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Too Sleepy for a Catchy Title

Another interesting day in the village. I spent most of the day putting our food and supplies away while Steve and the boys were out fishing for King Salmon with a good friend (our friend caught 25 lb. King; boys said a big one "got away"). Right before they left we were surprised by visitors...another group of about 15 from a college campus. They'll be staying in the school so we consolidated our stuff to make room. It's like a hotel!

I have been emailing a woman from the village throughout the year. We didn't meet last year but her written prayer request (last year) touched my heart so much that I emailed her last fall and we became fast "cyber-friends". Well, yesterday at church a woman approached me from behind and introduced herself--we finally met in person! I'm sure my face relayed my delight as I threw my arms around her. Friendships born in Christ are simply the best kind! Before going our separate ways, she invited us over for dinner (for today) and we gladly accepted. I'm writing now on a full belly and a smile on my face. We hit it off immediately and have similiar personalities. I think God must have been beaming as our families broke bread together and got to know each other. And laughed...we did a lot of laughing!

Played with loads of kids this afternoon and after dinner. Time for bed now. I got a kink in my neck and a headache from the new pillow I brought, so I was up early. I would say "at dawn" but since the sun doesn't really set here in the summer I'll just say 6:30 AM.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


We're in the village! Good to be here. Wonderful to be greeted by two little girlfriends we know and grateful I remembered both their names. Working to set up our air mattresses in our classroom where we sleep at the school, unloading food, and basically setting up house. Church tonight and then bed. (I'm looking at my air mattress longingly right now.) So glad to have internet access so far. Water no, but that's alright. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have more energy and can post with pictures.

Weather's beautiful. Mosquitos out in full-force.


We're here! No pictures (sorry) but maybe later...

Went bicycling today along the coastal pathways. Beautiful. And I discovered I LOVE biking!

When it's downhill. With a cool breeze blowing. And I don't have to peddle.

There were no comment card boxes along the trail but had there been, I certainly would have let the keepers of the paths know that the trails (22 miles total) would have been a lot better with an outlet mall at the end and smoothie stands along the way.

Had dinner with friends from the village who now live in Anchorage. So good to see them!

Tired tonight. We all went to bed at 2:00 AM (Ohio time) last night. Kids enjoying hanging and playing with our hosts' kids (wonderful boys).

We are so blessed! (And no, we did not go the whole 22 miles).


Friday, July 4, 2008

Free and Brave

Because of those in service, I am free.

Today, Independence Day, and everyday.

And because of Christ, I am free.

And I have courage in Him to head North this morning.

We have made it through security checks and await our plane. Houston then Anchorage...

Thursday, July 3, 2008


photo: the village that holds part of our hearts

May I never forget the honor and privilege of being a part of God's my own home, in my community, and far away.

That the creator of the universe would let us take part in His kingdom work on earth is absolutely, positively mind-boggling.

What is man that you are mindful of him Psalm 8:4

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Unsettled (eg Without Established Order)

I love a clean house. When things are in their place, all is well with my world. When something is out of place--like the box of nails on top of my shelf in the above picture, I am unsettled.
Imagine how unsettled I am right now in my little nest as I try to prepare for Alaska...
Prepare yourselves for this next picture of my kitchen.
ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! That countertop is sometimes cluttered with a few papers but never this!

But, of course, I have people helping me prepare for our trip. This little guy is helping me by orgazining his GameBoy games and charging his batteries

(the GameBoy's batteries...his are always charged)
I turn the corner to work on VBS curriculum and ackkkkkkkkkk! This is what I'm greeted by.
It looks like we're hoarders.

(I do like being greeted by my husband who, if you look carefully, is amongst this mess)

And because I've gone a wee-bit overboard on the shopping lately (wait til you see the antique barn door I bought), I decided not to re-schedule my hair appointment and try this myself.
Please pray for me.

So here I sit in chaos. I would like to claim it's organized chaos.
But that would be a lie.

Thanks for visiting...sorry I couldn't find you a seat.
PS--did I mention that someone will be living in our home while we're gone?
And that I believe our home should be like a
Bed & Breakfast for our guest?
Can you hear me sigh?
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