Friday, July 31, 2009


Sometimes when I feel like using this to make a hot cup of tea...

I wish this water would come out faster...

But living in the Alaskan bush, I am reminded that not everyone turns on the tap and gets an endless supply of fresh water. While in Alaska, water is hauled from a water plant in the village which makes fresh and clean drinking water available with the turn of a hose.

A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds.

Most villagers carry their water tubs home on 4-wheelers.

I tried hauling water once on foot, a pot full, and nearly passed out.

Hauling water from the plant is hard work.

But then I am reminded...

...that there are people in other parts of the world who don't have water plants, or 4-wheelers, or men to haul water...

...and they probably simply wish for a water source closer to home or a way to haul the heavy water besides their heads.

And then I think that this person...

...would give anything for a fresh water source, no matter how far he had to haul the water.

...and I come home and turn on this again.

And I am overcome with how ungrateful I can be at such a miracle.

Clean drinking water, as much as I want, whenever I want.

Without me hauling. Without me filtering.


And I ask God, again, to help me live a life of praise and thanksgiving.
Starting with the filling of my tea pot.

all images from googleimages

Thursday, July 30, 2009

School Mom

google images
We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to inform you that I am indeed a SCHOOL MOM vs a Summer Mom.
26 days...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Home Away From Home

The summer we lived in the village, we lived in teacher housing. Here I am checking email while kids played around me.
Most all of the buildings in the village (and in rural AK) are built on stilts (like this one holding our house up.) If you build on the ground, the changes in the permafrost temperature will cause your house to sink. The ground in AK stays permanently frozen all year, with only some layers thawing.
This was our home when we lived in the village for 6 weeks. We had two bedrooms, a bathroom with a honeybucket, a nice kitchen and a living area. We felt so blessed to have such a nice home away from home!

Since 2005, we have stayed in the school. We set up air mattresses and sleeping bags in a classroom and use the school kitchen for cooking. We are very comfortable. (Except my husband and I have increasing difficulty getting out of bed/off the floor in the mornings!)

The last two years we have left chalkboard messages for friends for their first day of school. This year we left one for a teacher friend.

Here's a bigger shot of the school. The pipe you see in the foreground will provide running water in a few years to village homes. Right now, the school and the fish plant are the only places that have running water (sometimes).
Next time we'll talk "water hauling 101".
Let's just say water is HEAVY.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting There

Alright, so we've made it to Alaska via a big Continental jet. We usually spend the night in Anchorage before heading into the bush because one never knows what the weather will be and the mantra around airports in AK is "we'll leave, weather permitting". An extra night ensures some travel wiggle room just in case weather doesn't permit.

The next morning we head to the airport to board an Alaska Air plane. This plane is set up to carry lots of cargo into the bush, and maybe about 35 people per flight, too.

Last year Alaska Air sent me a Starbucks gift card for entertaining passengers with my turtle puppet when we were stuck on the ground for 2 hours. I started off simply entertaining a restless child, but eventually many adults got their minds off of being angry and became enamored with "Tina", too.

While flying to a bush village of 5000, we fly over mountains like these before flying over flat tundra. We also see these kinds of mountains when we fly into Anchorage.
Then we land at the airport and board a smaller plane to fly into "our" village.

Before we get onto the "puddle jumper" we each must be weighed before our team of 19 is divided, by weight, into 3 planes.

This is group #2 this year. We took off before them, but they passed us quickly.

I have never seen another plane while flying in a plane...let alone with people I know in the seats!

We fly over tundra that looks like this for about 40 minutes.

We have never seen any signs of life but this year we did spot this cabin, probably a fishermen's cabin. I've read books about people living in remote areas like this, and if someone staying here needed help, they would fly a specific flag that meant a pilot needed to land and help them.

Don't ask me where a pilot would land because this tundra is very soft and mushy. Perhaps, for this cabin, he would send someone to help via boat.

Wait! What's that in the distance? Our village!

A sight that gets my heart pumping faster every year. The first time my heart skipped a beat because of nerves, but now I get excited because we're that much closer to seeing all our friends again. Anyone who believes following Jesus is boring, needs to come to Alaska with us.

The airport runway (a long strip of gravel) is 2 miles from the village so our friends pick us up, load our luggage onto their trailor and bring us to the school we call home for a week or two.

This year, Tommy and I hopped in the back of a pick-up to ride to the school. It was pretty cold and windy, but we were grateful for the ride!

Getting there isn't hard, but you can't do it in a hurry. And those small bush planes? Believe it or not, they can lull you to sleep. The whir-whirring of the engine is like a lullaby!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Bear Went Over the Mountain he is. The bear that mysteriously appeared on the Bering Sea beach. No one was quite sure how he got there, but the most popular explanation was that someone shot him by the old airport (a location too close to the village so bears must be shot), and somehow he got pulled into the river and ended up here.

Head on over to a decorating blog if you're squeamish...

Ok, your curiousity got the best of you, huh?

Here he is up close. As you can see, nature is doing its best to see that Mr. Bear decomposes. His fur is peeling away and you can see other signs of the "dust to dust" process. 2 days before, his legs were up in the air much higher and his bottom jaw was in better shape.

I will spare you the close-ups of all the maggots doing their job. Truly, there were so many you could hear them "buzzing" (the sheer volume of maggots working made the noise).

The bear was the talk of the village, and we were grateful we had friends willing to take us out on their 4-wheelers to see him. That's my good friend and our son in the first picture (and another teen from our team).

We are home, safe and sound, after an amazing week in the village.

Thankful God includes us in His work, and especially thankful the bear He allowed us to see up close wasn't breathing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Homeward Bound

Heading home tonight on a red-eye flight.
Looking forward to sharing stories and pictures with you!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Beach Bear

Not every day you see a dead bear on a beach. Went back again yesterday to the Bering Sea to take some pictures of the beached bear. wow. He's big.
Yesterday, FiFi the French Jazz Christian Singer, along with her trumpet players Jean Claude and Jean Sebastian made an appearance at church after her plane landed here instead of at Versailles. Somehow I always step out just when our special visitors come to Bible School.
Last full day of programming today.
The sand is running out of our Alaska hourglass...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quick Shout Out

Bet you didn't expect to see me this week but I wanted to thank you for your prayers and let you know things are going well here in Alaska.
We had a team meeting tonight (it's now 10 pm) about the day and just sat here cracking each other up. We are blessed with a great team again this year. I truly believe laughter is one of God's most wonderful gifts, and this team knows how to laugh!
Don't know if I'll post again while here, but I'll have lots of stories to share upon return.
Hope you are all well in your corners of the world.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saddling Up

vintage suitcases, photo by Thelma Carrillo
Packing duffel bags...40 pounds or less in each bag or we can't get on the bush plane.
(They weigh us, too!)
Cleaning house for dog sitter who moves in Monday.
Tying up loose ends.
Ready to hug far-away friends.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Remember my cousin, Jennifer? Here she is with Michael Jackson when she did the BAD tour with him. We asked her about him ("is he as strange as they say?") but she never really said much of anything regarding Michael.
Here she is in real the guitar world she is considered one of the best on the planet. A feat totally lost on our family (due to our collective lack of guitar knowledge), but we're proud none the less.

When I heard that Michael Jackson had died, I just felt so terribly sad for him. It seems like his soul hadn't known peace for such a very long time. One wonders if he can recall a time in his life when he did feel peace. He searched for peace all his life. I wonder if he ever sought the author of peace. Peace Himself.

If he hadn't, I am convinced that Peace called Michael again before he breathed his last.

...come to Me and I will give you rest.
I hope he accepted the invitation.

I pray my cousin knows the author of Peace.

Because everything else?

Chasing after the wind.


I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless,
a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun....
Even at night his mind does not rest.
This too is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, 23

Friday, July 3, 2009

Independence Day

"It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty, it ought to be solemized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."
John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail
3 July 1776

There, I guess King George will be able to read that.
John Hancock, after signing the Declaration of Independence

We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.
~Robert J. McCracken

Freedom is never free.
~Author Unknown

And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died,who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood
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