Sunday, May 22, 2011

An Epilogue

Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened.  
~Dr. Seuss

Quinhagak, Alaska
Our Tundra
In a 207 Over Western Alaska

I maybe in Anchorage but guess what?  That just means so are you:)
....And they all lived happily ever after:)
The End

I thank my God every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:3

Friday, May 20, 2011

It Takes a Village

Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the (tundra) top of the forest, (a big girl) a little boy 
and (her dogs) his Bear will always be playing.
Winnie the Pooh
From closing lines of The House at Pooh Corner

"Piurua, Quinhagak I'll miss you."

Well folks all good things must come to an end as is so with our adventures in Quinhagak.  
Thank you for sharing in these last two years of this amazing journey with me.  
I couldn't have done it without you.
Quinhagak...I'll be back soon.  You're never far from my thoughts.
For the last time living here, we will hop a 6 seater and fly away.
It has been an experience of a lifetime.  I am forever changed, God is Good.
I'm taking each of you with me in my heart.
I'll be looking forward to hearing from you and visiting when you make it to Anchorage!
You know in the Ojibwe Language there is no word for 'good bye' only words for 'see you later'.
That is what I'm going to use here...'see you later'
Giigiwaabimin Miinowaa Everybody!

When our time was up, they escorted us out of the city (village) to the docks (runway). Everyone came along—men, women, children. They made a farewell party of the occasion! We all kneeled together on the beach and prayed. Then, after another round of saying good-bye, we climbed on board the ship (plane) while they drifted back to their homes.
Acts 21:5

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I have accepted fear as a part of life - specifically the fear of change... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back...
~Erica Jong~

This morning's sunrise when I was letting out the dogs.

Alicia and Connie are abandoning me today.  We all walked to the beach last night after taking a steam with Karen and fam.  It was our last walk to the Bering together. Alicia unbelievably did not get pulled over while driving the 4 wheel earlier in the evening.   I'm forcing Karen and Jerilyn to come over to my house to sit and stare at the empty walls with me tonight.  Leave it to Pastor Mark at my church in Wisconsin to post the perfect blog for me to be leaving to...Change.  I don't like it, I don't want to do it, but it's life and I better just embrace it.  So today we've been wrapping up the last of our rooms...literally, Principal Eric makes us cover everything in paper...looks like something out of one of those scary movies where the house is closed up and haunted. School is eerily quiet with no kids today. We're all rushing around trying to get our check out sheets signed and begin that forward march to the next place.  I sent my last box at the post office (well, besides my TV which I refused to send until tomorrow because I'm paying for my dish until then and it will be my only semblance of normalcy in my household, which now has an echo because of the emptiness).  Bequeathed my P.O. Box 7 keys to Connie with Fannie's (our postmaster) blessing.  Gave Fannie a hug and slinked out the door.  Went over to Elena's for her baby's 2 year old birthday feast for lunch.  Yum, we had walrus kidney and it was sooooo good.  I'm definitely a walrus kidney fan.  Some salmonberry akutaq and birthday cake flown in from AC.  Quyana Elena for the invite.  So I leave tomorrow.  I can see the change already.  As we all know I don't do well with transitions, not too many of us do, but once I get the hang of things in the big city, I'm praying it will be okay. Haven't decided yet what I will do for the continuation of the blog.  Might end it and join the facebook phenomenon, who knows:)  
Happy Last Day in Quinhagak Everybody! 
(sniffle, sniffle) 
On the way to work, my last day.

Happy 2nd Birthday Feast

Me, Elena and Alison

Our Mountains this afternoon.
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"
Isaiah 43:18-19 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ready Or Not...

And by and by Christopher Robin came to an end of things, and he was silent, and he sat there, looking out over the world,
just wishing it wouldn't stop.
Winnie the Pooh-The House at Pooh Corner

A Steam Team

This is a Maqii (Steam House)

We steamed around 10 pm on a school night!  Wild and crazy I tell ya, mostly because after you steam you sleep like log which makes getting up in the morning not the easiest task.  But we did it because we are leaving and we are determined to seize every opportunity when it presents itself!  Quyana Karen and family.

This is Alicia driving Karen's four wheeler back for the 2nd time ever in her life after steaming around midnight.  This shot was actually captured only moments before she was pulled over by the Village Police Officer for carrying a rider on the front of 'her' machine (Karen)!  Hilarious, this was a the first time any of us including Karen had ever been 'pulled over' in Quinhagak.  It basically consisted of VPO Jerome slowly creeping up behind us then along side of us until we were forced to pull over to see who the crazy driver was trying to edge us off the road.  Luckily she didn't receive a ticket, just a warning and reprimand for Karen to get off the front and climb on back.  Oddly enough you can fit as many people as possible on the back of your 'honda' and not be in danger of getting pulled over. Even though every wheeler in town has a caution sticker posted visibly somewhere that reads:  DO NOT RIDE ON REAR BARS OF ATV OR CARRY RIDERS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT... etc  I guess riding in the front is just pushing the envelop a little too much even for Quinhagak:)
  Anyway it made all of us crack up at Alicia's expense;)

The Wacky Olympics were back by popular demand!  Nice work Steph putting it all together. You can see the human pyramid and the musical chairs team unwrapping of a thoroughly duct taped object below as well.  In the end Mrs. Z's Red Bulls walked away with first place (a nacho chips n cheese and sherbert ice cream party!) Yum. 

Wacky Olympians

Kevin made popsicles for everyone!

Then There's the Annual Beach Party
We kicked off our shoes, froze our feet in the Bering Sea high tide, ran around in the sand and pigged out on hamburgers and hot dogs cooked over an open fire.  We do up the end of the year right around here.

Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat Staff 2010-2011
Kevin, Me, Allison and Company
Roasting Hot Dogs
Tim putting another log on the fire.

My Parka Lives On In Good Hands
Johnny takes 'Beach Picnic' seriously

Rain cleared long enough for a sunny picnic
Smore Smiles

What's left? I have to finish cleaning my house and packing.  Beyond that I am T minus 48 hours. At that point Quinhagak becomes part of my past and is no longer my present.  Ouch, that is a hard pill to swallow.  But what a time is has been.  I mean just look at these pics.  My cup overflowth.

Shout Out To:  Felicia who is taking my position next year!  Consider this your torch girl and run with it:) To everyone who has been part of my life here!  I will miss you to the moon and back!  To everyone who has traveled this road with me through this blog!  Quyana, I've felt your good company. 
And to God...Quyanaqvaa! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You for it all.
"...Paul left the ship briefly to go to the meeting place and preach to the Jews. They wanted him to stay longer, but he said he couldn't. But after saying good-bye, he promised, 
"I'll be back, God willing." 
Acts 18:19

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

But I'm Not Ready!

Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together?  I guess that wouldn't work.  Someone would leave.  Someone always leaves.  Then we would have to say good-bye.  I hate good-byes.  I know what I need.  I need more hellos.  ~Charles M. Schulz

How lucky (blessed) I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. 
~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

Head Start Graduation

Connie and I attended the head start graduation on Saturday since we had several of the kiddos as our students this year too.  It was adorable as you can imagine.  One of our little guys only lasted about 2 minutes in his chair before leaping out throwing off his miniature cap and gown and racing around the gym. Others turned around to chat with their neighbors provided proud parents a great photo opportunity of their backs.  Some rolled around on the floor and examined the underneath part of their chairs.  Little kids are hilarious.  They enjoyed the luxury of the night before's fancy prom decorations to boot.  Above is one of my friend's boys, she has 3 and they  are all absolutely adorable.  Sam didn't graduate this year but his big brother did so he was all dressed up for the occasion:)  Sam is in the younger head start however, every time I would go to the head start I couldn't resist visiting with him about his trucks and toys.  It took a few times but eventually he'd chatter back to me about what he was doing.  Then anytime I would see him around the village we'd smile, visit and wave to each other.  Maybe it's because he reminds me so much of my own baby brother Sam but he just stole my heart.  His mom Elena, tells me I'm not the only one of course!  Anyway you can imagine my delight when Elena came up to me at head start grad and said he wants his picture with me!  "Really!"  I smiled feeling so special!  Well that makes two of us:)  Cheese!  

So a couple of months ago I felt that tug to learn a song in Yupik to sing before I left Quinhagak.  Of course I have a hard enough time pronouncing the simplest words, my students will tell you that, as their most belly rolling laughs have been purely at my feeble attempts to pronounce numbers!  So when God gave me 'the tug' I quickly brushed it off certain He must be joking..."I'll just sing something in English, I justified myself." Mercifully 'the tug' remained.  Shamefully I continued for a month ignoring it.  Then one Sunday during church (I mean after, surely she didn't say it during;) Connie turned to me and said matter of factly, "You should learn a song in Yupik to sing at church before you go."  Ok, Rachel if you won't listen to the still small voice maybe you'll listen to an audible one God seemed to be saying.  "I know," I managed then I continued on with the business of living and not addressing His obvious direction.  It wasn't because I didn't want to but because I knew I couldn't. I can't even contort my mouth to make the sounds that this language requires, it comes out all garbled and backwards.  My response to God?...It's a lovely thought Lord, but you simply must not understand how hard it is to speak this language much less sing in it!  I'm much more comfortable with English...ahum, Quyana.  The tug continued.  The more I defied and argued about the impossibility and how stupid I would make both He and I look the harder the tug. One week left when Connie asked again, "Have you picked a song?"  Truth was I knew the song all along I.  It was the only song that was sung in English that very first Sunday in Quinhagak when I was mistaken for a fish plant worker because of my boots, when I cried through the service and had wanted to get back on a 6 seater and go home, when I followed the sound of the bell to get to the church, when I met Fannie and Jerilyn, when my journey here truly began.  That was the song God was requesting I sing back to my friends in Quinhagak in their native language.  It made mysterious beautiful sense but I couldn't even pretend to begin to even fake a song in Yugtan and if I did no one and I mean no one was going to understand me.  "Remember how I told you in the beginning I knew you couldn't do it but I could?"  God again reminded me,  "Well that fits here too."  Tail between my legs, humbled and forgiven,  Saturday afternoon before my last time in church I sat down first with one of our 6th grade students to begin the overwhelming process of trying to pick apart the song in the Yupik hymnal into smaller chunks of syllables that made sense in my brain.  When she had to go God sent Jerilyn to rescue me. Selflessly she spent 3 hours helping me weed through the rest of the song and be sure I could pronounce the words as best as possible.  From there I called on one of my cross country runners and ( recently crowned Prom Queen) Renae to help me sing it.  Again for 3 hours we sang it over and over, she agreed to sing it with me in church and it seemed fitting again since the last time I sang at church was with her mom earlier this year.  Renae was a Godsend quite literally.  Bless her heart she even spent the night at my house so we could be up practicing in the morning before church.  I cried through the morning service but managed to make it through, thanks to Renae.  Just like that first service in August of 2009 that I cried though.  Cayastic Structure Beth Moore would say, like bookends to a season in my life. Wow, I'm going to miss this place and my friends here.
Anyway I had to share because it was a miracle seriously. We were requested to come back and sing at the evening I got all nervous again but I'm thankful God gave me the opportunity and ability to give back.  He is so good. 
Akkutai Asirtut Kaneryaram
(Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow)
This is the Real Yugtan Version from the Brown Hymnal #230
Akkutai asirtut kaneryaram
Ninerkinrulutingtlu yum irtsakruane
Umyugatlu asirtuk Jesusam
Itlitlu natlunaitlkutaugrkaulune.
Natmun tsiulitranun
Natmun tsiulitlranum 
Natmun tsiulitranun
Natmun tsiulitlranum 
Maligtsikaka, ang, maligtsikaka
Maligtuluku Jesusak

Nitnirkuktlu Jesusm nasvatlra, 
Nitikinrulunetlu kinkame tamin.
Yugunirketlu taminun ilavnun
Itlitlu natlunaitlkutaugarkaulune

Niske kaneryarai taits whangnun
Umyuarniulrianetlu mernuirutsikatse
Maligtakuluku ukferlutin
Ingluarlutintlu anirturtim tunginun. 

Below is the Rachel version of Yugtan phonics that Jerilyn painstakingly pronounced over and over with me word by word on Saturday afternoon so I could sing this at church on Sunday as my good bye to the Quinhagak Congregation that I have been able to be part of over the last two years. Anyone who speak Yupik will get a kick out of my hooked on phonics rendition.

Ahk –koo-die     ah-ser-dut    gah-nugh-yagh-ghum
Neat-nergh-ggun-gggoe-loot-den-shlu    you’m  Icgh-jaw-kwa-nee,  
oom-yoa-ghaw-shlu  ah-ser-duk    Jesus-aam  
ischle-schlu   naw-schloon-nie-sch’gut-dow-ghah-gow-loony
neat-nergh-gok-shlu   Jesus-aam   nuzz-vasch-ha,
Neat-nergh-ggun-gggoe-loo-ne-shlu   kin-kam-ee   dum-een.
Yough-nigh-geey-shlu   dum-ee-noon   ee-love-noon
ischlee-schlu   naw-schloon-niesch-gut-dow-ghah-gow-loony
nee-ski  gah-nugh-yagh-eye   die-gee  whung-noon
oom-yoagh-new’ll-ghaaa-nee-shlu     mugh-new-hut-gee-gaw-gee
mall-igch-dah-goo-loo-goo   ook-fugh-loo-den
ing-lawgh-looten-shlu   ah-nigh-dugh-dum    doo’ng-ee-noon
Nut-moon   jew-lisch-ha-noon
Nut-moon   jew-lisch-ha-noon
Mall-ligch-loo-goo   Jesus-aak

The English Translation 
This was the version that I heard when I went to church my first full day in Quin.  It was really the only English spoken during the service that day.  

I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
"Take thy cross and follow, follow Me."
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.

I'll go with Him thro' the garden,
I'll go with Him thro' the garden,
I'll go with Him thro' the garden,
I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.

I'll go with Him thro' the judgement
I'll go with Him thro' the judgement
I'll go with Him thro' the judgement
I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.

He will give me grace and glory,
He will give me grace and glory,
He will give me grace and glory,
And go with me, with me all the way.
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
I'll go with Him, with Him all the way.

Karen says she is uploading it to YouTube she recorded us on her phone during the service so that link may be coming soon... stay tuned. Oh wait, this just in, it's here. Click on the link below if you want to hear us sing it in Yugtan. Blessings:)

The Pic I snapped of my whole Quinhagak Church Family!

Youth Service Choir Singing Sunday Night
Renae and I after 3 hours of coaching me in Yugtan

"If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast."
Psalm 139:9-10

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Time Of Our Lives

Another turning point; a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist; directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test and don't ask why.
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time.
It's something unpredictable but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
So take the photographs and still frames in your mind.
Hang it on a shelf In good health and good time.
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial.
For what it's worth, it was worth all the while.
It's something unpredictable but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
Green Day, Time of Your Life

What has been happening in Quin these past few days???

The Alaska State Troopers Came To Talk to the Students

Trooper Windire talks to an attentive crew about safety
Principal Eric and VP Les Get their pic with Safety Bear!

A boat on what's left of the ice on the Kanektok

Then Graduation Festivities...

Quinhagak Graduating Senior Class of 2011
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
     But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
     Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
     On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
     At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
     And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
     Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
     There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
     The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
     Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
     That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.

 Edgar Guest, It Couldn't Be Done 
Read at graduation to our graduates by Pastor Frank

School Board Reps and Guest Speaker

Kindergarten Grads


And Prom 2011  "The Time Of Our Lives"

'Running From Grace' and Me
Grace and I Open Up the Prom Salon

All Ya Need is a Lil Hairspray
Nels and Annie
Prom Beauties

Grand March

Kevin's Angels
Principal Eric and Einar
Dakotah, Me and Jerilyn

Dancing the Night away
Lonnie and I
Prom Court Royalty
Miss Weaver and Peter
Sherry and Nels

On the Runway
Dressed to the Nines
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace. 
Numbers 6:24-26