Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eat Your Heart Out Rachel Ray!

"She did not so much cook as assassinate food."
Storm Jameson (1891-1986)
Remember the comment about how we would be feasting on grizzly and caribou this week? The outcome was delicious! Even got the stamp of approval from Tim (the bear's hunter) who has called Quinhagak home for 20 years. Yeah, no kidding, I was shocked too! I just cooked it up tonight hoping for something that, best case scenario was somewhat edible with the assistance of a hefty glass of powered country time lemonade to wash it down! What I ended up with even Tim proclaimed was "the best brown bear he's ever eaten". Mike and I agreed pay no mind to the fact that it was also the 'only' brown bear we've ever eaten:)The Caribou was pretty good too, a little tougher, in light of the bear, not as savory! So for those of you familiar with my domestic challenges in the kitchen, you'll appreciate with me that miracles do happen;) I did have the help of teriyaki seasoning from Costco which we had been using all summer on salmon (my lil bros shipped it up here with a few other miscellaneous things they thought I might need) such as but not limited to: several old caramel candies, a pre-owned chapstick, a dried up tube of super glue, and one used toothbrush. Needless to say the teriyake was the high point. So with their generous contribution and my memory serving me right about an old friend having used it to season bear, added some soy sauce, threw it in the pan and bah dah bom bah dah bing- viola... it was almost as if I knew what I was doing, eerie (note things are not always as they appear). Disclaimer!!! just so expectations don't get blown out of proportion, I would like to plead the 5th at this point, you see I believe there is a culinary gene. That's right, the ability to cook is at least partially genetic. This releases me from taking complete responsibility for my 2 left feet in the kitchen. Yep, I blame my sherpa Mum, who unashamedly raised us on Dinty Moore Stew, Campbell's Soup (the original Campbell's kids were us) and mac n cheese! We are none the worse for it. In all actuality I believe it has helped us survive in the world:) I confess that I do have 2 grandmothers that can whirl their way around a kitchen blindfolded and create a 5 course 5 star meal out of virtually nothing. I however, am at a loss. But like I said tonight there was a miracle and here's Mike's first time trying bear meat from my first time cooking it!
"Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."Psalm 34:8

Monday, September 28, 2009


Main Entry: 1fam·i·ly
Pronunciation: \ˈfam-lē, ˈfa-mə-\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural fam·i·lies
Etymology: Middle English familie, from Latin familia household (including servants as well as kin of the householder), from famulus servant
Date: 15th century
2 a : a group of persons of common ancestry
3 a : a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation
~Merriam-Webster's Dictionary
I am surrounded by family. I talked with my Auntie Jan on the phone tonight her voice and thoughts were like cozying up with your favorite blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, thousands of miles disappeared until my connection went fuzzy and we had to hang up. I had the dose of family I had needed to keep me connected to my support system (as if a rescue breath). I stopped by the post office today and found a card from Anne, she stuffed 'sunshine' in that card and updated me on the latest in Hayward, she keeps me connected to my roots (breath). She is part of my family. I went to bible study tonight, there I meet with my sisters in Christ, fast friends we have become every Monday night here in Quin. They keep me connected to my Anchor, they are my support system, my family (breath). I go to school here in Quin and work along side my new family (breath). We call June at Lac Courte Oreilles back home and catch up on my family at school there (breath). A familiar voice on the other end of the line, a picture on my fridge, a memory in my heart, a smile and word from a friend here in Quin or beyond, a blog comment, email, prayer from far away, Mike visiting from home, all are my family (breath, breath, breath...). Placed in my life each one a true blessing and cherished (keeping me breathing). I just have to say Wow. Thankful tonight for family of every kind. Wish we could all get together and have a campfire. Wish I could introduce everyone to each other. Amazing people meeting amazing people. I wish you could see yourselves through my eyes. You all inspire me to be a better person than I am. My family. Thanking God for you, every one!

"...Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."
Mark 5:19

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Over The Mountains and Thru the Tundra...

"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those doing it."
-Michael Johnson's trainer

(Community Art Work in Dillingham)

Go with me here..this is a very loose rendition of 'Over the River'...You get the idea.
Start with the title of this post, duh, you knew that, I know.

...To the Dillingham CC Meet we flew,
The pilot knew the way to fly us that day
Through the white and drifting snow,

Out the 207 window and down at the mountains and trees
All our cold noses we all smash,
To see all the new sights and the super long roads
That Dillingham has and also big tall pines and ash!!!

Isn't it September why is it snowing,
I thought we still had some fall,
And the boys are running in their basketball uniforms
This cold is going to freeze them all.

Down to Bristow Bay and up the Muddy Rudder,
To a real restaurant we did eat.
Ordering burgers, fries and orange juice

Pop is not an option during CC, forbidden treat.

Oh, back to the school but first by the thrift store
We stopped to buy fun things.

A new experience for the boys we think they enjoyed.
On cell phones constantly and every second there are multiple rings.

OH, over the construction zone by the school and down the street
To the AC and NNN stores we hiked,
To buy all the stuff we can't get in Quin,

We'll be over the limit on the plane home by the pilot we won't be well liked.

Oh the team ran so fast cruising right past as I tried to snap photos,
So proud of them as through the trees they ran.
Against Aluetian Chain schools

Bethel sized schools and more just then it started to Snow!

Over to the airport in the van they brought us to catch our plane,
The boys warned we'd be on weather hold
They were right as 3 hours we waited I slept
Finally up to the clouds through wind and snow.

Now we're back home such a great trip, so fun to see Dillingham
I have tons of pictures of trees
And of all changing leaves
So I won't completely miss out on fall.

Pictures Above: Right-Bristow Bay from Plane, Mountains and Fall Colors from Plane, Start of Regional Cross Country Race, Snow Storm we waited out in Dillingham. Left-Tundra Changing from the Plane

(Left:Team and Mike in the beauty of Dillingham) (Right: Catching Snowflakes)

Trip to Dillingham was a success. The flight over the mountains was eye popping with the beautiful fall colors giving the landscape a new coat of paint...tundra to trees. Wow, were those pines and ash a sight for deprived fall color eyes as we crossed the mountains the trees came into view and I started cheering. I told the kids I could have just hugged those trees, they told me I should so I did. And they referred to me as 'the tree hugger' the rest of the weekend. They ran their best races this season in the freezing cold Saturday morning. As a matter of fact just as the boys were about to start their race it started to snow and didn't stop! We didn't qualify for state but I think we have some serious contenders for next year as long as the boys are diligent about their training. I am so proud of them. We ended up getting 'weathered in' an experience they assure me I'll become all too familiar with as the winter storms take the reigns. Basically, it means there is a delay until visibility permits. We did eventually get a break in the clouds, the pilot stepped in announced role call to Quinhagak (yes, that's how we do it here, the pilot is your check in, flight attendant, 1st mate and captain). He led us out to our chariot which was covered with a plane sized sleeping bag to keep the engine warm and wing comforters to help de-ice. He peeled off the aircraft winter weather gear, we hopped aboard our little 207 (always making sure to lock the door) a mere 8000 feet up (quite high for a 207 but we had to get out of the storm) and 300 miles across, landed us back home in an hour 20. I was wedged in the back seat as usual (see the picture below), much like traveling in the Monte Carlo this summer with the fam.

That's me wedged in back of the plane.

Right: Professed Tree Hugger
Local News: Tim shot a Grizzly Bear this weekend. Everyone eagerly gathered outside his house to get a peek as he hauled it into town with the help of several four-wheelers and trailers. We're all getting to try some grizzly meat too:) Many will be set for winter because of Tim:)Fannie and David came back with northern pikes from fishing some of the interior tundra lakes near Eek. They also bagged a caribou. After church today she sent me home with a dorito bag full of fresh caribou and a northern pike. Mike offered to finish filleting the rest of their pikes to make sure all the bones were out. As you can see the neighborhood kiddos came over to supervise. This picture is taken in my arctic entry. Stop on over this week we'll, be having pan fried fish with a side of caribou and grizzly bear! I am ever so happily a meat eater! Also we are busy preparing for the 1st Annual Salmon Run this Friday in Quinhagak. If you are in the mood for a fun 5k come on up our way this weekend! We've got T-shirts and goodie bags....

Left: Mike, Marley and Ani by the Bering Sea
Right (Me, Ani, Sherry, Addy) ready to run
"The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes.
God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
down to the nth degree." Psalm 19:7-9

Thursday, September 24, 2009

'Thar's Snow In Dem Hills'

"Oh the snow the beautiful snow filling the sky and earth below. Over the house tops and over the streets, over the heads of people you meet. Dancing flirting skimming along. Oh the snow the beautiful snow how the flakes gather and laugh as they go. Whirling about in their maddening fun it plays in its glee with everyone. Chasing laughing hurrying by it lights on the face and sparkles the eye. And even the dogs with a bark and a bound snap at the crystals that eddy around. The town is alive and its heart is a glow to welcome the coming of beautiful snow. Bon Hiver (Good Winter) Cicely." -Chris In The Morning KBHR
(Northern Exposure 1990)

Well, folks see it with your own eyes:) We woke up this week to the temps hovering around 25 degrees Fahrenheit, snow capped mountains white and Jack Frost's fingerprints everywhere. This particular view was captured on my walk home from school yesterday. Winter is creeping across the tundra just like that fog was a couple weeks ago!

The Seahawk Cross Country team has been training hard! We have our district regional meet this weekend in Dillingham. None of us have ever been there so it will be an exciting trip. We are, once again, filling up a plane! Six of us makes for a full flight on a 207, which we will be hopping aboard tomorrow afternoon and making the trek over the mountains to Dillingham! Rumor has it there are a lot of 'real trees' in Dillingham. For this 'Coach' is very anxious, it's been 2 months since I've seen pine trees, I might even hug one;) This evening after practice we piled into my house for a spaghetti feed. I tried to cook up a feast in spite of my domestic ineptness. This involved begging borrowing and stealing bread, utensils, even plates from my neighbors and a deep pan from the school to boil my spaghetti. All I have is my camp cooking set and since I do actually have a pot to pee in I guess my plight would be more accurately described as: "doesn't even have a pot to 'cook' in". I had suggested what I thought was a logical alternative to Steph, that we all could just eat out of tupper ware containers (I have an abundance of these). She assured me it was no problem she would bring plates;). Hum, maybe my childhood was sneaking up on me again. Remember those plastic yellow Parkay margarine bowls??? Those were considered fine china in the Skime household, we had a whole set! Anyway, Mike and I hosted my 5 runners, assistant coaches Steph and Sherry and families! It was a hoot. Steph and I tried to make garlic bread and it turned out more like grilled cheese but the boys had no complaints and there was none left when all was said and done. Here are some pics from their training runs this week. Principal Eric and Mike even got out and joined them one evening (Eric is the giant;)

A fun fact: Did you know my dryer is pay only. That's right it is a genuine original laundry mat issued coin operated drying machine! Luckily it only costs me the same 4 quarters every time I use it! Another exciting novelty here in my little village home.

In line with our spaghetti feed tonight, this week we've also dined on broiled salmon caught right from our Kanektok River and slow cooked pork bought straight off the fish plant flat bed earlier this fall when they were selling off all their leftover food. Anya was here for 2 nights so we had a little LCO celebration. She was pretty excited make it to the Bering Sea, we all took a little jaunt down to the beach one night.

Mike caught this pic as Anya and I headed to school Tuesday morning. She has her backpack loaded with all the essentials ready to head to the next village on her roster. This is the transient life of an itinerant in the bush school districts. Most of the time they sleep in the schools. Anya stays with me when she's in Quin and I stay with her when I'm in Bethel.

Meanwhile, Mike has been busy embedding himself in the community of Quinhagak. He bought a kite at the store the other day and was flying it along the road as we walked home one evening, you can only imagine the following that we had. He has quickly become the pied piper of Quinhagak. The kids and dogs absolutely love him and follow him everywhere. His presence in my classroom is calming. What a blessing. Not only that but he has volunteered to empty the honey bucket while he is here. I caught him on camera.
I was in Jim's class the other day and had the opportunity to participate in a game the kids were playing in honor of a classmate's birthday. It was called the Wink Game. All chairs were in a circle. Students were in pairs of two. One student sat in the chair while the second stood behind the chair. There was one open chair with a student standing behind it. That standing student was the 'winker'. It was the winker's job to scan the students sitting in chairs and find one to 'wink' at. That sitter had to then leap out of their chair and try to make it to the winker's empty chair without the person standing behind their chair tagging them. It was great fun and in the mist of it I over head one boy teasing another in good fun and his comment made me chuckle...as his 'sitter' was leaping out of the chair and he was swinging to tag the escapee he called out "yeah, well you look like Goose Soup!"

Mike took this pic of Ani on the beach the other day when they went for a walk while I was slaving away in the classroom. I think Ani is saying something in this picture but what is it?????? Post your idea about what he might be saying in the comment section. I'll send a souvenir to whoever's quote fits the best!
What is Ani Saying?
Alaska is derived from the Aleut alaxsxaq, meaning "the mainland", or more literally, "the object towards which the action of the sea is directed." It is also known as Alyeska, the "Great Land", an Aleut word derived from the same root.

"He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.

He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.

He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?"

Psalm 147:15-17

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Chris: [to Joel] Well, you know the way I see it, if you're here for four more years or four more weeks, you're here right now. You know, and I think when you're somewhere you ought to be there, and because it's not about how long you stay in a place. It's about what you do while you're there, and when you go is that place any better for you having been there?
(Northern Exposure 1990)
We rounded up 2 trucks to haul our proud Seahawk runners and me 'Coach' ( they call me it and still I crack up) out to the airport Friday night after school to catch our charter plane, a 9 passanger Navajo (we made it a full flight that evening) to Bethel in time to participate in our first cross country meet Saturday morning! The kids were giddy and so was Coach! As the plane had lift off 9 eager heads turned back toward me (occupying the rear seat) with grins and wide eyes. We pressed our noses against the windows watching the now changing tundra pass under us. Fall is taking over the north country, the brilliant greens have given away to yellows, golds and browns. Yep, we were air borne out of Quinhagak, next stop the thriving metropolis of Bethel, Alaska. Rightly regarded so by us, in comparison to our 550 people, no restaurants, no major stores, 15 vehicles and no paved roads, a trip in to Bethel is a pretty big deal. As we neared that buzzing hub of southeast Alaska I heard one of the kids pipe up "Hey! I SEE BETHEL!!!!" Then one by one with necks stretched and lifting themselves as high in their seats as the baling twine would allow (kidding, kidding we had real seat belts, sort of) each one confirmed the sighting. Our adventure began! Bethel High School organizes, executes and host this rendezvous of all surrounding (within 500 miles radius) villages and cities. The school temporarily turns into a bed and breakfast, so sorry, no vacancy. You walk in and are assigned a classroom where you will call home for the evening, snuggling up on the floor next to the classroom closet, fish tank or maybe wedged between a few rows of desks:) Boys to one wing, girls to the other. Kids running around in every direction making strategic and efficient use of their limited time to connect with old friends from neighboring villages and meet new ones. A mist this cross country hubbub, thankfully Mike Radtke, (my colleague who I've worked with at LCO for the last 7 years and first official visitor to Quin) decided to swing on up this way and visit for a few weeks. Mike is, to say the least is a free spirit, ready to seize to whatever opportunities come his way. He reminds me to stop and enjoy the simple things like happy kids. Anyway, this particular opportunity that came his way included having to hit the ground running (quite literally) by my throwing him into the male chaperon position for the male half of my team for this event. Of course if you know Mike you know he fit in perfectly and had several job offers before I even caught up with him. He met us at the high school (how odd was that eh? Walking into Bethel High and seeing Mike) he had arrived in Bethel the day before and spent his waiting time with our friend Anya and touring around Bethel. What site for sore eyes, to see a familiar face from home warmed my heart and I've so enjoyed showing him life here. His first encounter with me went something like this:

"So good to see you! Mike meet the boys. Boys meet Mike. Good? Okay I have to get to the coaches' meeting. Bye."

After the meeting ended I found my "now bonded with Mike" team. Since no trip
to Bethel would be complete for any of us if it didn't involve at least one hour long shopping spree to the AC store (closest thing to a Walmart for 700 miles or so), we rallied the team and made the 1 mile 'urban hike' along the highway and back, before scooting them off to their classroom beds by 10pm. In the early am 7ish, while it was still dark, the kids started suiting up in black and gold (our colors), packing up, preparing to eat and be transported to the course by Bethel teachers who volunteered to drive. The day was gorgeous! Sunshine and a course that is completely sand and hills (fyi we have no hills in Quin and ran around in circles on the sloping beach access to train for this meet)!!! It made me think of all my pals back in Wisconsin who were riding their hearts out in the Chequamegon Fat Tire Race at the exact same time. The fat tire race is hilly and one particular spot is really sandy too. That's what my kids had to run through but for the entire race! Way too go you crazy mountain bikers wish I coulda been there (okay, not really, I like where I am) but I would have liked to bike it with yas. Fortunately the next best thing was happening, my friend Geri rode my bike in the race! At least my bike got to do it. I hear she got a pretty darn good time too:) Anyway my tundra tough runners had to race in a sand pit! Against teams that are 50 times the size of our school, it was like a Division 3 school playing a Division 1, a farm team playing a major league team, or the Packers playing the Vikings...you get the idea, te, he, he. Our stellar runners did outstanding!!!!! I was so proud of them! They were proud of themselves, call smiles! They represented Quinhagak beautifully. Go Seahawks, Way to Run Tough (Ericism)! We ended the day with a well deserved cruise around the paved roads of Bethel and a stop off at Subway where everyone learned to choose and order subs! Mike's treat. Quyana Mike. We were flown back to Quin in a plane that I must report was held together with cargo tape. I got a few justified skeptical glances from the kids as we tried to buckle in. Charlie's seat was apparently detachable as in not secured to the floor of the plane, to make room for oh, I don't know a box of lettuce, a snow go, maybe canned peas or something. Once we were safely landed in Quin and the engine was off, in an attempt to help the pilot expedite the de-boarding process, I was willing to reach over and open the back door, I mumbled this plan aloud while fumbling for the handle (just like in a car) until Jorey loudly warned me "Coach! No! Some of these planes are SENSITIVE you know!" Oh, so that's what they're calling it... "Sensitive" must be FAA code for: clunker most likely unsuitable for safe travel but, what the hay,probably got a few more good flights left in her...let's label her 'sensitive' and send her on up. Okay what matters is we made it back safe, had great stories to tell, good food (from AC store) to put in our fridges and a race well run. Mike's first day in Quin has consisted of a walk to the beach yesterday evening, a run with Principal Eric this am, church this morning, a trip up river today with Jim and Steph in their smoothly running motor boat (wow, the tundra colors are so different now). Jim immediately landed a huge blushed out Coho while Mike supervised. Steph and I picked a few gallons of cranberries. We all had salmon dinner tonight, then Mike walked Ani into the sunset after supper. It's been a busy 24 four hours, he and Ani are asleep, him on the floor and Ani on the couch...lol. Our friend Anya is scheduled to be in Quin this week so it'll be a regular LCO reunion up here in the tundra. Oh yeah, Ani and I tried out our new skijoring set up tonight out on the beach, except we ran, since there is no snow at this time. The wind sure is howling tonight though, a reminder of weather yet to come.
Local News: Congrats to Fannie and David's family! They got a moose this week. I hear they've been busy cutting it up and packing away the bounty!

Shout out to all my LCO pals! Dorothy-Thank you for the Card! I miss you all so much:) Juli-Ani loves his treats (in moderation, of course) and I love the bookmarks, Sue Rowe has such a dry sense of humor! June-Market those postcards would ya please? Thank you. Tammy- (science teacher extraordinaire) My dear friend, 'one foot where I am and one foot always pointed toward home'... as are my thoughts and prayers;) Lisa Maria-You go girl! A Rock Star teacher whose classroom even the Senator wants to get in on! Mrs. Johnson's Class have great time hosting the big wig on Friday! I know you'll wow him! Remember you want a paid field trip to either Washington D.C. or Quinhagak, Alaska for your teacher and your class!!!!

Thank you to Mum and Auntie Jan for the cozy warm slippers, cashew brittle and Ketchup Chips Eh! My favorite:) Love you and being loved by you!

"You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally." 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Me of Little Faith

"God reflects His goodness, holiness, and love through us."
~Pastor Mark

So while I was up here worrying away about my selfish troubles, and before I was even asking for prayer, God was tapping my pastor at my home church to pray for me!!!! This is amazing to me, seriously it was before I even asked! If you get a chance listen to this, I'm so humbled, truly and gratefully humbled and incredibly encouraged. In awe of God who is taking care of us all along.


Just highlight the address above, copy and paste it into your address box,
hit enter and you should be able to listen to it:)

Yep that's my Pastor Mark and my beautiful church family! Thank you all, I can't believe it, I love and miss you all dearly. Again I will say that you have poured into my life so much that through you God enabled me to venture north filled with your love, support, and encouragement.
Wow. This has been 3 days of jaw dropping grace. God is really something you guys. He is really something. And we are nothing without His reflection. I know Jim and Steph and I (the baby congregation up here;) will get kick out of this sermon this weekend. Quyana Pastor Mark.

If you are ever in Hayward swing by and visit the Hayward Wesleyan Church. That's an official invite, tell 'em I said to say Waqaa;)

"This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it's out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That's what I'm working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me."
Colossians 1:26-29

Well That Was Fast!

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. ~Mother Teresa

To all you pray-ers out there THANK YOU ('Quyana' in Yu'pik)!!!!! God heard and God answered, "ZIP! POW!" (he, he, those two little words that pack so much punch were in one of the assignments from our reading class today, the kids thought it was funny, so did I, and it just so happens to fit here) Just like that. Wow, He answered! Sometimes you pray for years and other times you pray for hours. He heard you guys and all is well as of this morning! Thank you again for joining me in prayer.

Hum, so on that note since God is obviously listening to you all (call me an opportunist)... there's this seemingly homeless puppy I've got my eye one running around the village lately and he doesn't have a collar on and....well, I've decided I'm going to try to dog nap him tomorrow. Besides rumor has it they shoot the wandering dogs without collars so they don't 'pack up' and well, I keep seeing this poor puppy.... lol. Again, pretty sure Ani would be stoked as usual, he needs a little brother. Speaking of Ani, he is very excited tonight because today in the mail we got our brand spanking new skijoring harnesses one for him, one for me and we match... nerdy, I know. But watch out cause we are gonna be quite the duo when the snow flies, village entertainment I'm sure!

This pic is Ani running on the beach this weekend. We've been working on him being off the leash once in a while and coming when I call him. He looks like a kangaroo here but this definitely not Australia.

"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." Romans 8: 26-28

Sunday, September 13, 2009

To Forever Friends...

"Sometimes in life, you find a special friend. Someone who changes your life just by being a part of it. Someone who makes you laugh until you can't stop. Someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world. Someone who convinces you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it. This is forever friendship. When you're down and the world seems dark and empty, your forever friend lifts you up in spirit and makes that dark and empty world suddenly seem bright and full. Your forever friend gets you through the hard times, the sad times and the confused times. If you turn and walk away, your forever friend follows. If you lose your way, your forever friend guides you and cheers you on. Your forever friend holds your hand and tells you that everything is going to be okay. And if you find such a friend, you feel happy and complete because you need not worry. You have a forever friend, and forever has no end." ~Unknown

I know I say this often but it is because it is so true. I'm thinking of the wonderful friends I am blessed with all along this journey of life. From Quinhagak to Hayward, around the world and back. This post was on Lisa's Blog to me back in August. Today I needed to read it and imagine her reading it to me. Thank You Lord for friends. Thank you Lis, for sharing your gift of words with me, you have no idea the encouragement I receive from you. I'm dedicating it back to you and to so many others.

For Rachel...

There is something
and wonderful
about the sound
of a friend's voice.
when that friend is
far away.

Her voice
was musical...
it's sound
and comforting,
like an old blanket
on a cool, autumn night.
The soft sound of contentment in her voice
brought peace to my heart.
I am happy for her,
for she is in a place
many long to be.
That special place in life,
when one knows
beyond a shadow of a doubt,
that it is
where God has gently placed them.

Shine on, dear one, shine on,
knowing you are loved,
and encouraged.
Encouraged to brave the storms,
to bask in the sunlight,
and to tread the cool waters of life.

You, my friend,
are an inspiration
to everyone you touch,
to everyone you meet.
For when they meet you,
it is more than the wonderful person you are,
the awesome creation God made,
that they see...
For when they meet you,
they see Jesus,
and are immediately comforted,
and happy
in your presence,
even though
they may not know why.

By Lisa

"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence."
Psalm 16: 11

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Keep It Between the Lines

Maurice Minnifield: Tell him that Dr. Fleischman is the kind of enterprising, young professional who's chosen to stake his claim right here on the banks of the Alaskan Riviera.
Dr. Joel Fleischman: Tell him I'm being held against my will.
(Northern Exposure 1990)

(Obviously this is a picture from earlier this summer, as I haven't driven a car since July 31st. This is merely to provide you a visual aid;)
Some days the best you can do is to keep your eyes on the road, hands on wheel, and foot on the gas. Just remember forward motion is progress and you are responsible for the control of your own car. Above all else pray, the fact is you're not really in the driver's seat anyway;) This is a reminder to myself ya'll:) Experiencing a few bumps in the road up here. Please pray for God's will in the situation and favor. Thank you.

"Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?" Mark 8:34-37

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hello World

Every child comes with the message that
God is not yet discouraged of man.
~Rabindranath Tagore

"It's nothing but filth," Mom would definitively proclaim as she promptly flipped the power off button on what would now be our antique 3 button remote contol shutting down our one channel to which we three rugrats were intently engrossed. We endured what I believe is the last of the real childhoods, forced to use our imaginations to find something to do or it would be "found for us"... TV. And today in Quinhagak, I think I have more channels than God, I think back to the 3 little urchins fist fighting over who chose which 30 minute episode, from the 2 rigged up bunny eared options grabbed out of the airways over the international border from Canada, would be watched since we were only allowed 1 viewing (if we were lucky)right after dinner and just before we washed dishes by dragging chairs to the sink since we couldn't reach (our allowance was $2 a week). Yes, I was in debt by the rip old age of 8 for a 10 speed bike that cost me dish pan hands for several years. Anyway back then the fight was over Mr. Dress Up in English or Sesame street dubbed in french. Sneaking a peak of Video Hits, the 1 hour Canadian version of MTV cerca 1984 is still burned into my brain, never did ever get into the whole MTV thing. So yes, for this, today 4 men determinedly brought the world into my living room in the middle of nowhere and consequently football into my neighbors house also. I think football was the true reason 4 men determinedly went to work on my satellite dish. Once all the technology was receiving, recognizing, plugged in and pointed in the right direction, Jim attempted to clue me in on how to use my remote-(s). Suddenly I was transported into the cockpit of a plane with the captain garbling out instructions in greek then handing me the controls "here ya go fly this baby". Dumbfounded holding a remote in each hand I turned to Jim and weakly asked "why 2 remotes?" "Oh you'll only use that for on and off..." he tried to assure me. Yeah right I've seen this routine and managed to purposely avoid it for the last 30 years of my life. Thanks to mom and dad refusing cable. I mean Grampa and Gramma have satellite but well, Grampa is the pilot so to speak and I was quite content riding in coach not having a clue what was going on up in the control room except for the occasional turbulence caused by the 4 different remote controls... enough said. Thanks again Jim. He and Steph are my heros. Without them I would be completely isolated from the world and my honeybucket would continue to stink... yes, Jim of All Trades put in my new Little Stanker Fan in my honey bucket our wonderful Principal Eric ordered them for each of us. This should be on the 'Dirtiest Job' show. Now that is the portrait of being 'Neighborly' Sticking you head in someone else's honey bucket. Obviously, I own Steph and Jim a lot. I experienced my first 'throw party' intercepting a glass and cookie sheet. It is a Yupik tradition celebrating a momentous ocassion for someone in that family. This particular one happened to be celebrating a son's earning his pilot's license and another son shooting his first caribou. The family steps out on their porch and throws boxes and boxes worth of all kinds of useful items to an eager and anticipating crowd of only women and children. So be ready to intercept or get out of the way and duck, hurling at you from all directions is everything from pairs of socks, bars of soap, wooden spoons, buckets and ulu knives (packaged of course;). And even flying rubbermaids...woulda been Mom's dream come true back in the days of her rubbbermaid craze. It was great fun.

It feels at home in Quinhagak, I walk home from school and collect a crowd of elementary students as they call out,"Hi Rachel!" and escort me to teacher housing. One of the kiddos was telling me about her trip she is taking to Anchorage, "I only have 2 more 'sleeps' until I go to Anchorage." I love that concept and the kids use it all the time here. Didn't you used to think that way? Remember Christmas time, birthdays or summer vacations...only have to go to sleep 3 more times and it'll be such and such....just a few more 'sleeps'. One of the little boys was so excited to share about his new 'snowgo' he would be using this winter...hum, that took me a second, oh yeah, snow machine! Got it! It intrigues me about the differences in languages and dialects. I think its beautiful. Variety. How boring the world would be if everything were the same.

"For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me." Matthew 18:2-5

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Introducing the Eskimo Pole!

"Learn how to enjoy where you are at on the way to where you are going." ~Joyce Meyer
Fannie, David (her husband) and Lily (their daughter) graciously invited me 'up river' on the beautiful Saturday of Labor Day Weekend. Not needing a moment to decide, I accepted excitedly and rounded up my gear. We jetted about 14 miles up the Kanektok to stop at a favorite spot they like to frequent and I quickly learned why. Only minutes after dropping our lines in, Lily and I (mostly Lily:) were reeling in the blushed out silvers like crazy. Fannie set up shop filleting as fast as we could catch them. While Fannie was wielding her Ulu knife making sort order of the crimson cohos, David searched for some poles and built her a makeshift drying rack which would be full of fish by the time we said good bye to our little spot. When the crimson silvers slowed we started fishing for the rainbows. Apparently Lily and I were not meeting the quota expected so Fannie took the situation into her own hands rigging up a genuine original eskimo pole. Using an extra pole David had found, about 10 feet of the 30 lb. test line I had in my fishing bag (thanks to Sam), and a treble hook, she fashioned a pole that mocked my "Ugly Stick" and put all other poles to shame. "Oh, I got this one a while ago, I think it was made in Japan." she teased as she landed trout after trout showing up Lily and I. We quickly converted and she taught us the appropriate way to fish....using an 'Eskimo Pole";) See the video below. Thanks to Jim and Steph I'm figuring out SLOWLY how to put my videos on again. I'll try to upload some more soon. This is me catching my first rainbow on an eskimo pole.

We arrived back in Quinhagak late and just as the fog was rolling in off the mountains! We could see it, a long gray cloud that hovered on the ground crawling across the tundra until it took over the town preventing us to see more than 2 houses away. Amazing. Anyway Fannie invited me over to take a 'steam bath' in Yu'pik it is called a maqi. We had collected dry wood on our way back down river before we got all the way home. Since most houses don't have running water they build small wood burning steam bath houses, much like a sauna for those of you in the lower 48:) I assume that this is probably similar to the 'sweat lodge' in the Ojibwe culture however I know there is more of a spiritual component to that as well. Anyway, in Fannie's steam bath house which reminds me of our ice fishing houses but maybe smaller. There is an inner room with the hot rocks stove and a bucket full of water to pour on the stove. When you are sufficiently steamed you go out into the outer room where there is a barrel with clean rain water and you use that to wash with. It was a great time, I could definitely get used to steam baths. Slept like a baby. It was a good day.

Sunday of Labor Day Weekend I slept until noon (remember the whole sleeping like a baby thing)! Steph and I listened to church on the computer. Went mushing on the four wheeler with Sherry while Steph babysat Sherry's little ones, Einer and Addy (Jim says she's practicing;).

Today, Monday of Labor Day Weekend, Steph and I went low bush cranberry picking. The blueberries are done and the cranberries are ready. Later ran to the Arolik River with Sherry, an 8 mile round trip:) Finally the day ended with a great night of bible study with several ladies from the village. I am so blessed to be here in this place right now, I am blessed to have family and friends who are sharing this journey with me. I wish you could all come visit. Come meet Fannie and her beautiful family, go to church and hear the Yu'pik words, take a walk to the store maybe purchase your very own 'quspak' (Yu'pik shirt worn by everyone). We could pick berries, maybe jog/walk with Ani to the beach, maybe we could even find someone with a boat to take us up river. It would be fun if you could be here. But our journeys are different right now and I can't have everything I want so I hope you smile knowing in my heart you are all here:)

"This is God's work. We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it! This is the very day God acted— let's celebrate and be festive! Salvation now, God. Salvation now!
Oh yes,
God—a free and full life!" Psalm 118:23-25