Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Skype and Fried Food...

Skype is amazing. I usually don't rave about technology, as I do believe it sucks the true life out of us and consumes our every thought/movement/need... but really, video-chatting with my friends and family is what sustains me when I am alone up here. Jordan has been gone for 10 days now, and I am missing him more than ever. He called me tonight and I felt like I hadn't seen him in months, like when he was at basic. I just stared at him and teared up and told him the only thing I could think to say was that I loved him and missed him! (you can all get your "gag" out here >.....<)

But today I also got to Skype with my dear friend Laurie from Japan and see her three beautiful children. It just made me so thankful for this technology!  I got to see them play, laugh, talk, sleep, and wave. They are just so precious. What an amazing blessing we have with this Skype thing! Or as Tom, my father-in-law, called it "this snipe thing". :)

Anyways, I've also been blessed with meeting so many new people in the past week and a half and being invited over for many dinners! Over the weekend I enjoyed an evening with a couple named Shelley and Corey and their two little boys, Miles and Salem. They just moved into a new house this year and I so enjoyed seeing how they have renovated and designed the house in this awesome vintage/modern look. They so inspired me with my own house! We had grilled salmon and they took me out to a new place called Yogurtland in south Anchorage. My friends, if you have not discovered a self-serve yogurt bar near you, I encourage you to seek one out ASAP! My friend Tamra from Bellevue just told me they put one in within walking distance of where we used to live. AH! No fair! Here are a few links for you to locate one near you:

Please explore and indulge!

On Saturday I enjoyed meeting some new college students at the church and making my first batch of frybread to serve to UAA students that night at our kickoff event. Frybread is just like a fried dough/donut kind of thing that natives make up here. It's delish. We served about 300 pieces to students at the event and met lots of cool people.

On Sunday, some girls from church and I drove up to the Alaska State Fair in Wasilla.  Our mission: eat the food! Mission accomplished! The first thing they made me try was something called fried cheese curds. Yes, my friends. We're talking cheese dipped in batter and then fried. It was amazing. We also had gyros and a cream puff that was to die for. I bought a beautiful pottery bowl and we enjoyed watching a scripted, yet cheesy lumberjack contest. We're talking men wearing flannel, revving up their chainsaws, and climbing poles. Yup, welcome to the sticks!

I am just feeling so blessed. I love my job, I love the people, I love the food, I love my house, and I love my neighbors! Hooray!
Just getting started....

Our booth at the UAA Campus Kickoff. That was just one of two trays of fry bread!

Last piece!!!! I so badly wanted it, but I held back.

My first cheese curd tasting!

Ingrid, Julie, and I at the state fair. Feels like I've known these girls forever! Thanks for a great day!

It just doesn't get much more beautiful than this...

A regular ol' lumberjack show... only up here!

Climbing contest: This took like less than 30 seconds for him to get all the way up and come back down!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Youth group...

Tonight was our first youth group night of the year! I was so excited for this kickoff because I finally got to meet the kids that I'll be working with. It was so good to feel that sense of purpose, meeting kids, and just knowing, like really knowing, that I'm needed here.  I can't explain what that feeling was. I was in a room surrounded by 6-12th grade kids singing their hearts out in worship, and I just had this overwhelming peace come over me that I'm needed here, and God has me exactly. where. He. wants. me.

I've been feeling so frustrated and overwhelmed with trying to fundraise money, that this week I just kind of felt the wind seeping out of my sails. I just prayed that tonight when I met the kids, God would put that drive back in my heart, that sense of purpose. And He totally did! Praise Him:)

I challenge all of you tonight. I challenge you to look deep into your heart and ask yourself if what you are doing with your life is serving the Lord. For some of you reading this, I'm sure this question makes you feel very uncomfortable, as I know not all of my readers are Christians. I may even lose some readers by being so bold. But I just feel really led to give you that challenge. It's so easy to get caught up in our "master plans" of what we want to happen in our lives.  And it's even easier to say we're believers than it is to really act like one.  When I was 18, my "master plan" was to graduate from college with a bachelor of music education degree, work for 3-4 years, get my master's in education, and keep moving up the ladder.  But I am so glad that God has pulled me away from that plan, and put in front of me His plan for my life: to serve the youth of Alaska and love them. These kids have so much brokenness in their lives, and I am so grateful and honored that God has chosen me to be a leader for them.

"Now someone may argue, 'Some people have faith; others have good deeds.' But I say, 'How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.'"  James 2:18

I hope you are all able to feel the sense of completeness that I feel in my heart, that without a doubt, I am serving the Lord today, tomorrow, and in the days to come. And what a joy it is!!

Bless you,


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

While you were out...

As many of you may know, Jordan's job is so awesome that he got sent to Japan for a two week tour around the country.  Jordan's job is so awesome that as I'm writing this, he's playing for our very own Vice President of the United States.  Jordan's job is in fact, so very awesome, that he is actually getting paid to play his bass in a foreign country with awesome musicians!

And while he's out doing those amazing things, I am here trying to settle into the Alaskan lifestyle.  Here are some things I've learned so far:
1. Time doesn't seem to matter much around here. The sun certainly doesn't care what time it is.  The rain doesn't care how long it sticks around. And you better not care about getting anywhere actually on time as the traffic in this town won't allow you to.
2. Which brings me to my next lesson learned: Traffic patterns in Anchorage are severely lacking in practicality.  I'll also tack on that street names don't make sense either.  The same road that runs north and south will be called two different names, depending on where you jump on it. And one-way roads should be outlawed.  Me and Mr. Garmin are new best friends:)
3. Grocery stores are named after people and automobiles. You can find your salad dressing at Fred Meyer, but meat prices are better at Carrs.  Don't try the Wal-Mart, as it's all the way across town and by the time you navigated through those one way roads, your ice-cream will be melted.

Now that I'm all learned about this city, I've had time to accomplish some things this week and make some new friends!  On Saturday night, I had four girls come over that I've met through CYAK and church.  They are so sweet and I can't wait to get to know them more. Layla liked them, too. She told me.

On Sunday, I helped do some painting at our church's house on their property. It's going to be used to house four college girls and one CYAK staffer who will act as their RA. Cute house, great place for those girls. I also was invited over to a couple's house for dinner that night and met their children, Ingrid and her husband Marcus and their two kids, and their son Eric. We had hot dogs over the fire and ate on their deck.  Oh yeah, that's all because this was the only sunny day we've had in weeks.

On Monday, I spent some time working on my fundraising.. some of you may be getting letters soon, and if you'd like to get a letter from me, please let me know that you'd be willing to support me! Then send me your address.

Today I completed my substitute training and met some people that I'll be working with at an after-school club at a middle school. Then Sandra came over and helped me with my curtains! They're finally up and I love them. She's so awesome. Thank you!!

I'll keep you all updated while Jordan's in Japan, as this is the only way I get to share with him what I'm up to, as well.
Halibut dinner I made for Jordan last week!

This rainbow was right outside my house the other night... so beautiful!

Curtains are up! 

Living room with new couch pillows looking into dining room.

"Miss you Dad"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What do you want to do today? Glacier climb? Fish? Moose hunt?

Ah, life here in Alaska is somewhat settling in and while I may have tricked you by thinking we've been hunting moose (sorry, not true),  I've decided it's time to update you all!

Jordan is gone for his first PT test in Alaska this morning, with a bum knee, so I'm praying that he doesn't injure it more while he's out there.  But I love his confidence. He hasn't really been able to work out because of the knee, so when I asked him if he can thinks he can pass the test, he's has no doubt at all! Oh sure, running a mile and a half at 7 minute/mile pace, and doing 50 pushups and sit-ups in under a minute each... EVERYONE can do that when they're out of shape. Sometimes I just look at his runners body and wonder why God gifts some, and not others in that capacity. Right now, I'm SURE I would fail that test, even if I had been working out diligently. Can I get an Amen? (pause for a brief moment of self pity...........

Ahem.. moving on now).

I guess I can't admit that I've been totally lazy since being here.  This past Monday I took Jordan ice-fall trekking on the Matanuska Glacier about two hours from Anchorage (we saw two moose on the drive!).  This trip was so.... beautiful. I'm really loving the idea of getting up close and personal with glaciers, hanging out by rivers and oceans, and hiking the woods becoming a lifestyle for us instead of a vacation. Alaska is serving us in many ways Nebraska just couldn't... somehow those rolling hills of cornfields just weren't as exciting as strapping on some crampons and walking around a huge block of ice that's thousands of years old!

Our dear friends Clint and Sandra also invited us to go fishing with them on base the other night, too. We still don't have our fishing licenses, as we aren't residents yet, but it was still fun to watch! I think the most exciting part was the drive out there.  This base is SO huge, that we were able to drive out past the flight line for about 15 minutes on a dirt road until we ended up at the ocean. Seriously. Along the way we stopped at a small lake that some red salmon were spawning in.  Clint taught us that salmon turn red when they're at the end of their life.  They lay their eggs, then actually die OVER their eggs so their babies have something to eat when they're born! Gotta love creation... how did God seriously think of everything? We had fun with the kids watching them try to fish with their little poles from the shore. So cute :)

So in between all the fishing and glacier climbing (seriously, it's a busy life), I have been working on my substitute application so I can work in between my ministry hours here and there. I tell ya, they certainly make you jump through a lot of hoops to be a sub. But at least you know they don't take just anybody. That's comforting.  I've also been solidifying my fundraising training so I can start my fundraising for CYAK.  This is something I'm really nervous about, as I need to raise enough funding to be able to travel each year and receive a small stipend for hours of work.  Some of you may be hearing from me via letter or phone call in the next few weeks. Please keep this part of my ministry in your prayers, that God will provide everything I need to do this job, as I really feel like this is exactly what He wants for my life right now.

And in between all of that, I'm also trying to decorate our new house.  So far, I have two new pillows for our living room couch. But Layla has decided that couch pillows are her new prey, and tries to "wrastle" them when I'm not looking.  I'm begging, if you have a solution to this new obsession, I'm willing to try anything!

Life is certainly busy up here, but not too busy to be missing our wonderful friends in Nebraska and remember how truly far away we are from everything and everyone. I hope this blog is finding you all well, happy, and a less sweaty this week!

Jordan's peanut butter birthday cake! Happy birthday!

Sandra and I, with her daughter Jenna in the background. 

Clint is enjoying the life in Alaska.

Hanging out at the glacier!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Never have I ever...

That's a fun game, isn't it? To think of all the things you've never done in your life, then find out all the people who also haven't done them. Makes you feel not so alone. Well my dear readers, I just marked a ton of never-have-I-evers (aka NHIE) off my list this past week! And I know many of you are dying to hear about it, so let's start, shall we?

Many of you may know already, but my new job in Alaska is going to be working for an organization called CYAK (Covenant Youth of Alaska).  This job is placing me at First Covenant Church in Anchorage and working with the youth pastor, Phil, to help with his high school ministry.  I've always had a heart for helping people, and when I really got down to what makes my heart excited and on fire, it always comes down to reaching out to the needy.  I'll be helping with high school youth group, teaching Sunday School to high school kids, and going to lots of weekend retreats and camp in the summer to meet students from villages around the state.  I am SO incredibly excited about this job.  It's a different feeling than I had last year when I started teaching music... I can't explain it. Except that this job just feels so.... right. Like I'm meant to be doing this.

Ok, I had to provide all of that FYI for you to understand why I went away last week.  I traveled by small-charter plane (NHIE #1) to the village of Unalakleet, AK off the west coast and up off the Norton Sound.  I was actually right on the Arctic Ocean (NHIE #2).  This place was so breathtakingly beautiful.  Just rolling hills and tundra, with the ocean quietly framing life in the village.  I went to Unalakleet to attend CYAK's Vision Camp that is designed for 18-25 year olds.  The camp is located 10 miles outside of the village, so we drove for about a half hour on a dirt road to get there.  We parked the truck in this old potato field, and I kind of looked around like, we're here? There were no signs, no markings. Just a field with a muddy trail leading in to the woods.  I heard that we were going to be "rustic" this week, but I was at least hoping for a cabin! I quickly learned that my multi-colored polka dotted rubber boots from Target (I call them my "cute boots") were going to become my best friends for the next week as we head to strap on our bags and hike another half mile into the woods to get to the actual camp!  And since it had just poured the day before, the trail was SO muddy. Might I just say, my boots definitely made me stick out as a "city girl", as everyone else had on real mud boots that were made for this kind of stuff.  Nevertheless, we arrived at the camp Tuesday afternoon, ready to dive into a week of worship, fellowship, eating, fishing, and more!

I could detail the trip out for you, but I am just going to continue my NHIE list, including high lights of this week.

NHIE #3: Our first night there we ate silver salmon and Alaska King Crab legs for dinner! Score!

NHIE #4: We hiked into the tundra up a mountain to view the beautiful landscape.  On our walk back we picked blueberries, blackberries, and a few salmon berries!  JUICY and YUMMY!!

NHIE #5: One night, for what I liked to call "forced fun", we went down to the beach to shoot skeet. I've never shot a gun before... EVER. No, Dad's little bee-bee gun that he used to shoot squirrels in our backyard doesn't count! And guess what? I actually shot a skeet!! I aimed, and bam! I gotta say, I was pretty proud of myself:)

NHIE#6: I got to go salmon fishing with my director and a few others.  This was fishing like no other I've experienced.  We get in the boat, go down the river a bit, and the men cast their poles in the water.  I get ready to settle in and enjoy the scenery, but 30 seconds later my director, John, is shouting to move on, there's no fish to catch here!  I asked him why he didn't want to wait a little longer, but I later learned that salmon bite RIGHT away, and if they're not biting, they're not there.  We ended up catching 9 fish that trip, and I got to help net them and clean them off! Should I mentioned I screamed like a little girl a LOT while doing all of this? The boys were very patient with me!

NHIE #7: I got to ride on the back of a four-wheeler back to town Saturday night! It was really fun, but when we arrived back at the Covenant auditorium, my hands were stuck in a claw-like position and my speech was quite slurred from not being able to move my freezing cold cheeks! Totally worth it thought! The sunset over the ocean was just magnificent!

On top of all these wonderful firsts for me, I met some awesome people! There were some single moms joining us for the week with their little ones, and I just fell in love with their little babies!  Native babies seriously have the biggest, sweetest, most kissable cheeks EVER!  I also really enjoyed meeting some other girls that are on CYAK staff in other parts of the state.  We bonded quite a bit, and I'm just feeling really encouraged knowing they're going through what I'm going through, too.

Here are a few pics of the week:

Waiting in my car to be picked up at the church Tuesday morning...
First, I saw this plane and I was like, "This is not bad at all! I can do this!"

Then, I realized THIS was our plane. Oh boy!

Beautiful hour and 45 minute trip to Unalakleet!

Standing in front of the Arctic Ocean!

Selena's baby boy, Xavier. See what I mean about those cheeks?!


King Crab legs... mmmmmmmmm.

This was my view outside my cabin the first morning... simply beautiful..

View from the top of the mountain, overlooking the tundra.

Me, Matt, John (my director), and Janelle with her baby Mikale . 

How can you not love God's glorious masterpiece!?

Our director, Byron, juggling flaming sticks!

Visionaries, 2011. I'm in the white hat on the leftish.


John is turning into a kid in the candy store!

Do I look cold? 

Our bounty for the day!

Bald eagle!

Standing in front of our cabin that I stayed in. I should mention I hadn't had a shower in five days!

Cleaning off the fish on shore... my hat got stuck over my eyes!