Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On A Wing And A Prayer(s)

"If nothing is going well, call your grandmother."
~Italian Proverb

Here in the Dairy State
Sorry to have been so distant everyone (quite literally). I’m back in Wisconsin on a wing and a prayer. My Gram had a second stroke last Monday 12/8/2009 morning and I was flying home by Monday night though it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Monday after I got the call at school my wonderful principal Eric directed that I immediately went home, tried to collect my thoughts (that didn’t work) and book a flight out (that didn’t work either). We have had very strong winds in Quinhagak lately due to a monsoon in Hawaii and our Bering Sea winds, so the bush plane companies weren’t having much luck at getting into Quin. The Doc was not hopeful for Gram said she probably wouldn’t make it through the night and all I could do was talk to my fam, cry and wait. Thankfully Sherry and kids came over to guide me along and keep me company, I am surrounded by the most wonderful people, I wish I could get everyone together to meet each other. God is so incredible you guys, He’s so willing, able and wanting to be there for us. I was sobbing to my mom a few hours after I got the news and was still holed up in Quin waiting, when Mom suddenly gasped “SHE’S AWAKE AND...SHE’S SINGING!!!” I could hear family and friends in the hospital room laughing and crying. “Can I talk to her?” I cried. Mom held the phone to Gram’s ear I heard her singing “Gram I’m trying to get to you but the wind...The wind is really strong here Gram and the planes can’t fly in.” “Oh” she kind of mumbled the first stroke had paralyzed the right side of her body “Da, Wind da wind da wind, end da wind, end da wind, and da wind.” was her response, she knew what I was saying! We had to hang up but as I was sitting on my couch, with my dear friends Steph and Sherry (did I mention how beautiful my Quin family is, Steph and Jim took Ani right into their home while I've been away) I was staring out the window at a leaf or maybe it was a feather, stuck under the tin roof of my neighbor’s house and it was whipping back and forth in the wind. As I watched it I tried to will it to thoughts were”STOP!!! JUST QUIT MOVING! STOP!” Then I felt like I heard God say “Just ask me. Why don’t you just ask me?” Duh? I agreed and as I turned to ask Steph and Sherry if they would pray with me when my phone rang. It was my brother informing me that Gram, worn out yet miraculously awake from her 2nd stroke had, in her slurring speech just prayed that God would stop the wind so I could come home. I hung up stunned, shared it with Sherry and Steph and we prayed. Within and hour there was a plane on its way from Bethel as the winds died down just enough to get us loaded up and airborne. The take off was like a roller coaster but I didn’t get nervous for a second. I knew Gram’s prayer was getting me home. In Anchorage they were able to move my flight up via a layover in Salt Lake. That put me in Minneapolis about 2 hours before the first major winter storm of 09 hit Minnesota and Wisconsin full force. Just enough time for my cousin and I to drive that last leg, the homestretch making it into Hayward just as the snow was picking up. I was hugging my Gram by 6 pm Tuesday night thanks to all the help from my family in Quin and I am absolutely certain the prayer of my Gram. She has been up and down these last few days, seems like when one thing gets better something else happens but praise the Lord she’s a fighter and our family has been able to be together through it! Today we had to move her into the nursing home, that was not easy at all, we tried to decorate it. We are all praying and hoping that her stay can be temporary as she works through her rehab there. This is totally a miracle, she wasn’t supposed to make it through Monday night. Apparently Gram had a big old conversation with God and He informed her that her work her isn't done yet! God is Good you guys no matter what happens, in the end, when all is said and done, He is Good. That is exactly what she was singing when she finally came to from the 2nd stroke. She just kept repeating it, my brother called me and left it on my voice mail, “And God is Good, And God is Good, And God is Good...” I agree. I’m still shocked that I’m here but I know its in His hands and plan. THANK YOU to SO MANY who have been PRAYING. God is answering. May He bless you all immensely.

Back in Quin
I hear someone got a Beluga whale. Good work and congratulations. The village will use all of it and everyone will benefit. It was divided up and gone by the next day.Thank you all in Quin for praying and helping me out....Eric-Sherry and Family, Steph-Jim and Family, Fannie and Family, Pauline and Family, Tim Sherman and Family, Jerilyn and Family, Mac, all of you I know my not being there causes you to carry a heavier burden, I'm praying it doesn't feel that way. Thank you so much, I miss yas lots.

Quyana and Merry Christmas My Friends and Family!
Hey Eric this one's for you! With Love, Ani

"While he was still talking, some people came from the leader's house and told him, "Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?" Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, "Don't listen to them; He permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John. They entered the leader's house and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: "Why all this busybody grief and gossip? This child isn't dead; she's sleeping." Provoked to sarcasm, they told him he didn't know what he was talking about.But when he had sent them all out, he took the child's father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child's room. He clasped the girl's hand and said, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, get up." At that, she was up and walking around! This girl was twelve years of age. They, of course, were all beside themselves with joy. He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room. Then he said, "Give her something to eat." Mark 5:35-43

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."

Quyanaqvaa, thank you so much for all your prayers everybody. God is answering. Gram is still in the hospital, the whole fam is with her, she is having good days and bad days. Docs aren't sure yet what the situation will be. Please continue to lift her to God. I'm up here hanging in there, the fam is keeping me updated several times a day. We appreciate all the kind words, encouragement, and prayers from everyone. Thank you all.

In Quinhagak we have warm summer breezes, yup, breezes gusting up to 80 miles an hour right now. Residual effects from a monsoon in Hawaii and the Aleutians. Strange thing is, this whipping wind is 40 degrees! It is arriving here from the south, warm and balmy. It’s melting all our snow and raining on us! Howling wind is an understatement, its more like a screaming hurricane. It nearly blew me off the road walking to work yesterday. I had to lean the weight of my whole body into the heavy gusts just to stay upright and maintain a straight line homeward, could have windsurfed with a sail. Had to laugh at the thought of the wind suddenly ceasing to blow, I would have immediately fallen over like a bike with the kickstand snapped away. But the battle against the tropical headwinds wasn't entirely a "blow out". The road had transformed into an ideal skating rink and my pak boots lacking snow cleats were not ideal skates, I did one of those futile cartoon river dance numbers just before both feet flew right out from under me, suddenly I was staring up an oddly star filled night sky. After flailing around on my backpack like a turtle whose been flipped on its shell I finally righted myself, but it was a struggle to keep my feet underneath me. So I slipped, slid and was blown back to my own front door. Not sure why but I tried to take Ani for a walk.....Now that was entertaining. Ani, clawing away at the sheet of ice under his paws, wasn't even a match for the elements. He was as much of duck out of water as I had been. We threw in the towel on the whole 'walk' idea and hunkered down at home. The whole house has been trembling for the last 24 hours and I question the Jenga blocks that are posing as a foundation underneath us, though so far so good. There really have been storms like this before which have actually blown houses off of their stilts.

"God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer. When I'm far from anywhere, down to my last gasp, I call out, "Guide me up High Rock Mountain!" Psalm 61:1-2

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Prayer Request

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
~Hubert H. Humphrey
Hi folks, I'm humbly asking please, for prayers of healing for my Gram. She had a stroke yesterday and is in the hospital back home now. The distance from here to there is taking hold. My family and I sincerely thank you.

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven." James 5:13-15

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Beauty of Bethel

"Well, I think those boys will be fine..." Uncle Hubb to Uncle Garth
"But will you?" Uncle Garth to Uncle Hubb, "You've been busy: terrorizing doctors and nurses, beating up teenagers, chasing after lions..."
~Secondhand Lions

Finally We Had Liftoff
After 2 days of weather hold I was on my way into Bethel. From the plane we saw 4 herds of caribou running around on the tundra! The pilot flew low over them and tilted the wing so we could get a good view. Felt like I was on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom! Anyway lots of hunters filled their caribou tags this weekend. And a few others had to be searched and rescued. Ah, well everyone survived.

Gaspeq, Cuspiq, Kaspiq, Traditional Yup'ik Shirt for Women
Anya made me my very own gaspeq! Complete with the Seahawk logo sew on the front. Pretty incredible seeing as it was her very first try at making one. She's a seamstress though. No problem. So while she sewed away, I was busy knitting (picture my nose all scrunched, eyes squinting,focused and tongue curled over my top lip in concentration) this is how I knit lol. It was a wild weekend in Bethel.

My New Favorite Movie

If you ever rent another movie, do yourself a favor and see "SECONDHAND LIONS". Best movie I've seen in forever. While we were biding time in Bethel on yet another 'weather hold'. Yes, status quo, normal Alaskan weather and airport protocol: eagerly arriving at the airport 1/2 hour before our flight (plenty of time in this neck of the woods or tundra, rather) while hopefully trying to will away the snow that was very obviously blowing across the runway to snatch our flight plans. After 2 hours of praying for a break in the clouds with enough time for our little 207 to make a hop for it, we were disappointingly sent away and told to return in the morning, better luck next time. They were however, kind enough to let me leave my bags at the airport. This is a relief because a trip to Bethel always means a return trip hauling 3 times the amount of luggage with which you arrived: get the goods while the goods are able to be gotten, in Bethel. After declining the proposition from our cab driver to what would have no doubt been a lively game of soccer at the armory with some local Albanian/Macedonian futbol enthusiasts we bumbled back into Anya's house, shaking and stomping off the excess snow and decided to veg out watching Secondhand Lions. You'll like it, go rent it. Promise. You'll be a better person for it.

Dark and Early This Morning

Anya and I were up again and headed back to the Bethel International (he, he kidding)... Regional Airport to have another go at catching a flight out to Quinhagak. While we were standing at the ticket counter and as the airport staff was arriving to work, we overheard a delightful conversation between the guy who might have been a psuedo air traffic controller/picker of air planes and maybe a ticket rep or airplane mechanic guy (they were oblivious to our 'within earshot locale').

Mechanic to Plane Picker guy, " To Quinhagak?"
Plane Picker guy to Mechanic, "Ah, let's just send up the junk plane."
Mechanic to Plane Picker, "Why not? Sounds good."

"Yeah, Why not?" I asked myself too. Only for my brain to be bombarded with a flurry of reasons myself had in immediate response...

Taking mental note, a deep breath and calming myself so as to not startle the two professionals engrossed in this very serious conversation being held in my presence. I politely interrupted, clearing my throat and stepping a little closer to the counter near the sign that read "All flights must be paid for before boarding, NO EXCEPTIONS". Our airport is more like a bus terminal. "Excuse me", I said to the Picker and Mechanic, "...I couldn't help but overhear your conversation, um, I'm sorry did you just say, 'send up the junk plane'?" For a moment time stood still as my inquiry registered on their radar so to speak, then together, backs to us and realizing what had just occurred, they slowly, simultaneously turned to face us, plastered with sheepish smiles and offering a host of apologies and reassurances. Evidently the 'junk plane' is referred to as such because it's payload capacity is 300 less pounds than any of the other...ah hem, "non-junk planes". Anya claimed that if we really thought about it, technically, it was a compliment, they were saying we are so light and little. I on the other hand, wasn't so optimistic and needed multiple reminders as to why I was supposed to feel completely comfortable and safe that we were about to be escorted out to and airborne in the 'junk plane'. I cranked up the the calming self talk and awaited the usual beckoning of the pilot, much like a teacher taking roll call. Finally, there he was, clipboard in hand, striding out of the back office like Jethro Beaudin, our carharted 20-something pilot sauntered in sporting a cargo tape patched down jacket that had seen better days, took off his ratty baseball cap, scratched his head, looked around at us (the only 2 people in the airport- yet another indicator that we would be the junk planees) and called out our names for Quinhagak or maybe the green mile. As we fell in line and followed him out the door we couldn't help but notice two other pilots dressed in 3 piece suits, following after us. Anya inquired,"So why aren't they our pilots?" "Oh," they smiled almost apologetically "We're flying to Anchorage." I snickered "Yeah, we got the junk plane pilot." "Hey" Jethro scolded me, he almost sounded insulted but changed his mind and chuckled, "Junk plane, eh?" Thankfully and as usual, my fears proved to be unfounded as it was probably the most pleasant flight I've had. Jethro turned out to be the cutest pilot, we had the calmest winds, fullest moon setting over the frozen tundra lakes behind the passenger wing and slightest sunrise beginning its ascent over the mountains in front of the pilot side wing. I leaned against the window and fell asleep to the hum of the engine while trying not to think about what seemed to me, an excessive amount of weight in boxes of dried potatoes crammed in every possible space behind me, surely more than 300 pounds worth. I slept most of the way. Go figure. Junk plane, huh...

Back to the Movie

The title of that gem of cinema sparked my memory (this doesn't happen all that often so I have to seize the archived dusty file as it drifts by) I blame my parents...neither of them remember anything, sadly I didn't used to sympathize quite so much, but I'm afraid as the years keep ticking by I'm beginning to understand all too well. Don't get me wrong, this genetic trait is both a blessing and a cursing...though there are many things I wish I could retrieve from the files, there are also things I'm all too happy to forget, especially when I remember I forgot them. I had a point here somewhere, lets see if I can find it...Oh yeah, I remember...this an an article that my pastor back in Wisconsin published in our local paper last year or the year before, at any rate I kept it so I wouldn't forget what it reminds me to think about...and well, let's just say the movie we watched, rang a bell....enjoy:)

Lion Chaser Manifesto
My blogger buddy, Mark Batterson, recently created a Manifesto for "Lion Chasers". I found it inspiring and motivating and thus, am passing it on to you:
Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion!

"The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions."

Proverbs 28:1