Thursday, December 13, 2007

thanks to mr. craig gilley, i now have a camera again! hooray! here are some random pictures...

we went for a walk at the arboretum. here is craig (kayla's boyfriend), me, steve, and momo (weekend friends...not teachers).

notice anything weird about this monkey? sorry if i've offended anyone, but i couldn't resist.

loretta weeks teaches first grade at the school. all of us younger lady teachers call her mama, and every once in a while, if i'm really lucky, she tells me i am her favorite daughter. that changes from day to day. loretta and her husband are leaving after this semester to move to uganda. i'm really going to miss her, and so is the school!

our little christmas tree

when kay and i are coming home from school, the boys in our neighborhood often ask for a ride down the long, winding hill that is our driveway. i think we piled 10 of them into our little car once. it's always a noisy ride!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Since I have lost my camera, I thought I would put some pictures of past adventures on my blog. Some other teacher friends and I went to a place called Paradise lost over a month ago. With a name like "Paradise Lost", I was expecting a lot out of this place. Let's just say that I was underwhelmed. It took us about an hour to get there, and there are basically five things to do. Here are the pictures.

Activity 1: ride a camel

Activity 2: feed an ostrich

Activity 3: explore a well-lit cave

Activity 4: walk behind a waterfall

Activity 5: go for a boat ride

Conclusion: Paradise Lost is a fun place with random things to do. I think the paradise is still lost, though. Let me know if any of you know where it went.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When I asked Bill and Jan Bevins if they would be interested in hiking Mt. Suswa, they jumped at the possibility. So did I! Jan and Bill were two of the people I climbed Mt. Kenya with in April, and I knew they would be up for an outdoor adventure. I was feeling like I had been in the city too long, and being an Alaskan and all, the need to be in the outdoors practically runs in my blood. The hike was mentioned to a few other people at school, and before we knew it, 2 more families were coming as well as some more friends. The number of people in our caravan totaled more than 20, and since there were children ages 10 and under, I figured (and was hoping) we would not all be hiking together.

We left Nairobi at about 8:30, headed in the right direction but all-together uncertain of where exactly we were going. Mt. Suswa is not a national park, and according to the Lonely Planet guide, it isn’t so easy to access. So we drove in what turned out to be the right direction after all. The road started to get a bit rough, so those people in station wagons decided to park their cars and hop on board the two Land Cruisers. 8 passengers inside and 4 on top of each. I am still sore from that ride on top. Add to the equation a few Masai men and women who needed rides up the mountain, and you’ve got yourself some full Land Cruisers. I don’t think that even the soccer moms carry this many people in one vehicle. This is what SUV’s are made for, right?

The ride on top was beautiful. As we drove further up the mountain to get to the trail head, it became apparent that we were inside a huge crater. The giant rock walls rising up beside us provided a nice shelter from the wind. When we arrived at the trailhead, we were all kicking ourselves (not literally) for not bringing tents and sleeping bags. It would be the perfect place to camp. Oh, I forgot some crucial plot exposition for this story. As we were driving up the mountains, some Masai men started chasing after us with what looked like a receipt book. The Masai woman who was with us in the car, told us to ignore him, so we just kept on driving.

When we finally made it to the trailhead, those of us who were more serious about hiking separated from the families. As we began to hike, it became apparent that there was no definite trail. Some Masai boys showed us to a nice view off the side of a cliff. We looked for a trail but found none. Instead of giving up, we decided to descend down this cliff and climb back up the other side. 4 days later, my quads still regret that decision. The challenge was great, the adventure was great, but as the sun got hotter and the amount of water in my bag got smaller, my mood began to swing. As we climbed back up the cliff, we knew the general direction we needed to go in, but for a while we walked in circles. After whacking through bushes, growing weary from the early stages of dehydration, bleeding from all the thorns we walked through, we finally spotted the cars.

We hopped in the Land Cruiser, and began driving down the mountain to meet the other families who had left 30 minutes earlier. As we drove, we got a phone call saying some of the Masai people had barricaded the road so that we couldn’t get back to the road. When we met up with the rest of the group, some of the men who knew Swahili were talking to these men who blocked the road. Now if you recall back in the third paragraph I wrote about a man chasing us with a receipt book. Apparently we were supposed to stop and pay this man, and since we didn’t they decided to block the road. They were demanding a ridiculous amount of money, but it was going to be dark soon. As much as I would love to bring justice to Kenya, I knew I wasn’t the person to bring about that kind of change in this circumstance. I was all for paying and getting out of there! Eventually, that is what we had to do. After we paid, the men “kindly” moved all the rocks so we could get through.

I left town on Saturday ready for an adventure, and that’s what I got. I was expecting one kind of adventure and got a completely unexpected one. I still haven’t climbed Suswa, though! And after all that, my camera is now lost…

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Nothing is perfect. I began this school year intimidated, nervous, and unsure of myself. I think there are many teachers who begin the school year this way, and I was always told to fake it until you feel it. If you act confident, your students have no idea that you are terrified, and let’s just say I’ve become a pretty good actor. It didn’t take me long to “ease” into the comfort of the routine and realize that teaching middle school math, science, and Bible was something I could do. As with most situations, I sought out the comfortable place. This meant I would do everything in my power to work quickly, efficiently (this one doesn’t always go so well for a forgetful person like me), and to do the amount of work necessary but nothing beyond that. The problem with being so comfortable in my teaching is that I was no longer using my gifts of creativity to make my lessons unique and meaningful. My job became a job, and I don’t want it to be that way. My prayer is that God would help me find creative ideas to use in the classroom. He cares about what goes on, and I don’t think He wants me to be happy with teaching at a level of mediocrity.

In high school I was generally a straight-A student. In fact, the only class I got a B in was chemistry. It seems a bit ironic that I am now the middle school chemistry teacher (see paragraph above about being intimidated). I have often felt inadequate in this role, and oftentimes I spend a better part of my day trying to understand the concepts before I teach them. (I do need to give a little shout out to Eric Gibson, the high school science teacher who provides all the tutorials I need before I teach.) I like learning, and I love exploring the intelligent world that God has created. But there are some days when I wish I was teaching something I knew about and felt confident in. I’ve been reading a book called “An Arrow Pointing to Heaven”, which is Rich Mullins biography. Rich Mullins believed that life is a struggle, that there is no way to avoid difficult times. I am realizing that this applies to teaching as well. Teaching is not an easy job, and it is not about finding a comfortable way to do things. Sometimes God asks you to do things that stretch you, and I think this is one of those times. Rich Mullings says, “Don’t resist the work of God by asking for an easy life.” If I were not able to teach chemistry, God would not have put me in the position. Please pray for me as I continue to learn and teach in an area that is not my forte.

If you think of it, be praying also about the decision I need to make about next school year. I am on a 2-year contract at school, this being my second year. In December I have to decide whether or not I wish to renew that contract for another year. I am completely torn and would appreciate your prayers in this area. Perhaps my next blog will be dedicated to my thoughts of staying and going. I have many thoughts about it! Thanks for taking this journey with me, gentle reader.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I went on a game drive into Nairobi National Park a couple weeks ago with some friends. Here are a few pictures. I have a couple pictures of us getting stuck in the mud, but it takes about a decade to load each one, and I have grown weary. So for now you can just enjoy the cool animals.

I think this one was posing for me, displaying the freshly curled eyelashes.

Apparently this giraffe is used to seeing people. And weird vans with holes in the top.

Zebra. I don't know what else to say about them.
Mama Ostrich was not very happy with us driving so closely behind her babies. It was quite a feat trying to overtake them in our Land Cruiser without hurting them. Eventually we succeeded.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Check out my Slide Show!

To say the place was bazaar or wacky would be an understatment. When Kayla, Scarlett, Hannah, Rachel, and I decided to go to Kitengela Glass for the day, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. I've seen the glassware in stores and always admired its homemade perfection. The prices of the glasses, bowls, vases, and other sorts of glassware have always been out of my price range. After visiting the factory, I can see why. After we had gawked at the wacky statues and eclectic artistry on display, we went into the room with the furnaces. The fire was blazing hot, and we watched these men put the red-hot glowing glass on the end of a pipe and blow air into it. I have never seen anyone blow glass before, and it was amazing. I now understand why Kitengela charges so much for their products. The care and craftsmanship that goes into making just one glass or bowl is amazing.

Besides the glass-blowing, the rest of the Kitengela Glass is simply wacky. I wonder if Dr. Seuss helped create the place because it resembles the worlds you would find in one of his books. There are all kinds of crazy statues and buildings made of glass, bottle lids, and other random objects. Peacocks, camels, pigs, ducks, roosters, and horses roam free throughout the place. There is a pool and a guest house. The guest house overlooks a gorge that separates Kitengela from Nairobi National Park (I think). There is a rope bridge that goes across the gorge, and we decided to be brave and go across. Anyone with a fear of heights would not have embarked on such an endeavor. It was a bit scary, but the view was amazing, and it was a lot of fun. After we had crossed the bridge, we spotted babboons on the other side headed towards Scarlett's purse. As much as I wanted to save her purse, I also didn't want to get attacked by the babboons. They can be quite viscious. Rachel and I decided to cross the bridge as fast as we could (definitely not running) and scare the babboons off. We yelled and screamed at them as we approached, and they decided that the purse wan't that interesting and went away. Phew! I really didn't want a close encounter with one of those animals.

My conclusion: Kitengela is an amazing place, but it really doesn't seem like such a place should exist in Kenya. If you come visit me, I will take you there. Otherwise, enjoy the slide show and imagine what it must be like in the land of Dr. Seuss.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday, October 5th was my 25th birthday. On Thursday, my roommates took me out to dinner, and when I got home a bunch of my friends were waiting at my apartment to throw me a surprise party. It was so fun! Some of them felt bad for not bringing a gift, so they went into my room (before I was home of course) and wrapped up some of my belongings. So for my birthday I got a pair of flannel pants, strangely similar to the ones my mother sent me last year. I also got a framed picture of my sister and me when I was 16, then another framed picture of my best friend and me in front of Mt. McKinley.

On my birthday, one of my students made me a cake, and we had a little celebration in my biology class. Everyone at school was wishing me happy birthday, and after school Heather, Kayla, and headed out to Mayers’ Ranch to hang out with friends for the weekend. My parents called me as we were driving out to the ranch, and that was when I got the best birthday gift ever. But in order to understand the true significance of this gift, you have to understand a little about my family.

When I moved to Kenya, a little over a year ago now, my parents moved from their home in Anchorage, to Bend, Oregon. My dad took a pastor job there. My mom had a temporary job with the school district in Bend, but it ended in April. She has been looking for a job ever since. She finally got hired just a couple weeks ago, but that hasn’t left my parents with a few thousand extra dollars to come visit their daughter in Kenya. When my parents called me on Friday, they told me that a man from my dad’s church gave them $3000 so that they can come visit me. Unbelievable. That knocked my socks off. And thus concludes my story of the best birthday gift ever. Ever. Ever.

On Sunday (October 7th) my friend Astrid invited me to go on a game drive in Nairobi National Park. She borrowed a big Land Cruiser, and we left in the early morning hours to look for animals in the park. We (well, Astrid really) drove for about 20 minutes and then got stuck in the mud. She called the emergency number that one of the rangers had given us in case of such emergencies, and, in typical Kenyan fashion, no one answered. We waited for an hour, maybe longer, sipped coffee, and enjoyed each other’s company. Once we were “rescued” (see pictures below), we didn’t get stuck again. We saw giraffe, zebra, buffalo, gazelle, impala, and even a rhino. All in all, it was a great day. Had we seen a lion or a leopard, it would have been a grand slam day, but a great day was good enough.

I am trying to upload pictures for you, but the internet is too slow. This blog entry will have to suffice for now.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Here are some random pictures of random things from the past few weeks. Enjoy! I hiked Mt. Longonot with some friends, and Astrid (right) made us pancakes at the top. They were delicious!!
Casa (I don't know how to spell her name) took lots of pictures while we hiked.
This is my beautiful roommate Heather with our beautiful little neighbor, Michelle.

This shows the international flavor of our school. Joel (left), is German, Meitamei (top) is Masai (a native tribe in Kenya), Adam (middle) is British, and Illam (right) is Kenyan.

The boys soccer team warming up for their first game

Some members of our girls basketball team just before their game.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Life moves fast. That could be the theme for my past two weeks that have left me with little or no time to update this blog of mine. I apologize to the 3, maybe 4, people out there who check my blog religiously. Sometimes I just set myself up to fail. But anyway, these weeks have been full and tiring. The school year is in full swing with sports practices and games and fun get-togethers on the weekends. This last week was good in the sense that I was able to stay on top of my grading, planning, labs, and communication with parents. The week before, however, left me thinking that I needed to figure out how to organize myself in a new way. Those of you who know me well can attest to the fact that organization is not my greatest strength. I have trouble coming up with a good system for how to do things, so usually I have 3 or 4 different systems that work, and since I can't decide which one I like best, I use all 3 (or 4) at any given time. But because I also suffer from short term memory loss, I can never remember which system I chose to employ at any given time. Are you exhausted just reading this? This week, after meeting with my amazing mentor, I decided I just needed to choose one system and go for it. I even made myself a list that says something like, "Put things back right after you are done with them; graded papers go in this basket; copied papers go in these folders; papers that need to be graded go in this basket". I stuck to my list pretty well, and it's amazing how much stress was relieved because of this. One of my professors once told me that I needed to "work smarter, not harder", so I am trying to do that. So far so good.

As far as general life here in Kenya, it's always an adventure. Between dodging potholes, bicycles, and crazy matatu drivers on the roads, I am amazed we can make it to school on time. It's kind of scary how comfortable I have become on these chaotic roads. I would never drive this way in America. We have really cute little boys in our apartment complex who like to come visit us. The other day I went running, and when I came back, Jerome-Dwayne asked me where I had gone. I told him I went running, and he says, "Ah! And your face is pink!" He thinks my pasty, pale skin is fascinating, and I think his dark brown, almost black, skin is beautiful.

I have always enjoyed people-watching, and I think the best place to people watch is here in Nairobi. There is such a diverse mix of people here. Most people imagine Africa as a place with dirt roads, people living in huts, and bare-breasted women with children hanging all over them. This isn't realistic. In Nairobi there is everything from the rural, Kikuyu women with their hear wrapped in scarves and their long, bright-colored skirts. There are men in 3-piece suits riding their bicycles through the muddy streets. Then there are the more urbanized men and women. The women are wearing suits and high heals, the men are wearing neatly pressed, starch white dress shirts. And cell phones abound. There is a diverse ethnic population here. We see Indian people (people from India, not Native Americans) everywhere, along with Koreans, Americans, Europeans, and you name it, it's probably here. The same diversity is reflected at this school. And one day, when the internet connections are better, I will be able to post some pictures.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This past weekend we had our West Nairobi School Staff Retreat at a place called Lukenya. It's kind of like a resort, outside of Nairobi and away from all the fumes which I despise. Last year we chased giraffes at this retreat, but we had no such luck this year. We looked for them, but it was to no avail. I did enjoy haning out with some of the new staff members as well as some of the old ones. I really am blessed to work with so many wonderful people. We had worship and communion on top of a mountain. After we caught raindrops in our communion cups, we decided maybe we should get off the mountain. Kayla, Heather, and I hopped in the back of our friend Mark's truck. As soon as we got in, it started to hail on us. Here we are, laughing our way down the bumpy road.
Amanda (left) teachers social studies, and Jen (right) teachers 3rd grade. Jen was one of my housemates last year.

my feet

Becca, Kayla, Jen, and Olivia (my principal's daughter). We were looking for giraffes here, but we never found them.

I am giving these pictures a second attempt. About two weekends ago, Heather, Kayla, and I joined a bunch of friends at Heather's brother, Bryan's house. He lives and works at a place called Mayers Ranch. It is a beautiful place, as close to paradise as I have ever been, perhaps!

Kayla and me beneath the acacia trees

The pond. They bottle water at the ranch.

me, Kelly, Kayla, Heather, and Hannah

Bryan, Hannah, Chris, me, and Heather about to have lunch

Kayla and me in the ginormous fig tree

My roommies (Kayla and Heather) and me in the fig tree

Heather beneath the fig tree. Told you it was ginormous!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

TIA... I just spent an hour putting pictures on my blog and writing about all my wonderful adventures this weekend, and now I have lost it all. Bah! So while I figure out what to do about my predicament, check out Kayla's blog. The link is on the right side of this page.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I have no pictures and no exciting adventures to report. Wow, that is a horrible way to begin a blog. Why would anyone keep reading after I wrote that? Maybe if I set your expectations low, then you will be thrilled to find out that life in Kenya is not as drab as it could be. I am almost finished with my third week teaching. Teaching middle school is different than elementary, and though I miss having my own classroom, it is nice to have frequent breaks throughout the day that are longer than 30 minutes. I find I don't have to bring work home all the time like I did last year. I can even read books in the evening if I want to! Imagine what a world this is opening up for me. Oh goodness it's exciting.

I have really been enjoying my students lately. The school has such a rich international flavor, and I enjoy seeing so many different colors represented in my classroom. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures to post of them, but I will try to do that soon. They're beautiful, trust me. The other day in Bible class I was writing prayer requests on the board, and I wrote down one of my own. I asked them to pray that my mom would be able to find a job soon. One of my studens raised her hand and said, "Why does you mom need a job? Shouldn't your mom be retired or something?" I lauged really hard and then responded with, "How old do you think I am?" Then we got into the discussion of how old I am, and to my surprise, most of them thought I was older than I am. That rarely happens to me since I look young.

At school I do most of my teaching in the science classroom, which I share with the high school science teacher. I have a very small office, which doubles as the high school book room. It smells like old books in there, but I don't mind. I have a desk,, some shelves, and a white board. It's been so nice to have my own little space. Plus, who doesn't like to say things like, "It's in my office," or, "If you need me, I'll be in my office." Or maybe I'm the only one who thinks that's cool...

This weekend I am going out of town with my roommates Heather and Kayla. Heather's brother works at a ranch that's about a 45 minute drive from Nairobi. We are all looking forward to getting out of the fume-infested city. Then next week we have our West Nairobi School staff retreat. This means I will be getting out of Nairobi two weekends in a row. And it is in times like these that life simply can't get any better. I will post pictures when I get back. My giraffe-chasing pictures from last year were taken at the staff retreat, so I'm sure I will have some good ones after that is over.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Good bye family! My parents drove me up to Seattle so I could catch my flight to Amsterdam and then to Nairobi. We stayed with some friends there, and here is the front of their lovely house.

Back at our new apartment in Nairobi, my roommate's brother, Brian, and I were sitting on this bed that he brought back from Sudan. It served as a nice piece of furniture in our living room, until Brian made too sudden of a gesture, and the thing broke.

There were bugs inside eating away at the wood, so it's not all our fault!

Kayla and me on the first day of school - we are so excited to be going to school!!!

It’s been just over a week since my plane landed on Nairobi. With the jet lag gone and school in full swing, it feels like I never left.

The first day of school was Tuesday, August 14th, and as I write this, I am officially done with my first two days of teaching middle school. This year I decided to move up with the 6th grade class, which is now the 7th grade class. I am teaching 7th and 8th grade science, pre-algebra, and girls Bible. So far it has been going pretty well. I feel a little inadequate when it comes to teaching science, but the high school science teacher left me detailed lesson plans to teach. It’s nice having everything planned out for me, I just have to work at making these lessons my own. The Bible curriculum leaves something to be desired, and it’s another opportunity to get creative. Bible curriculum usually gives me that opportunity =).

I am living in an apartment with my good friends Kayla and Heather. Kayla and I moved out of the house we lived in this past school year, and now we are enjoying our new place. It’s very cozy inside, and I am very content there. Kayla and I are also sharing a car – a little Toyota Starlet. I have adjusted to driving on the left side of the road, and now I am pretty good at shifting with my left hand as well. The hardest adjustment was getting used to Kenyan roads, Kenyan traffic, and Kenyan drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. Now I am used to it, and I drive in an aggressively cautious manner. Most other drivers are just aggressive.

All in all, it’s good to be back here. Thinking about teaching brand new things is still a little overwhelming, but I love the students here. They make all the work worth it. Please pray that all the little first-week-of-school glitches would smooth out. I’m sure many of the new teachers are feeling overwhelmed, so be praying for them as well.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sister Denee, their dog Kinzie, Brother-in-law Steve

the whole fam

Kendra joined us for our family weekend. She fits right in, except for her red hair =).

Mom and Dad at our family picnic on Sunday

Kayla is a fellow teacher in Kenya and also one of my closest friends. She and her boyfriend, sister, and nephews and niece came for a visit. This is her boyfriend, Craig, not her nephew.

My mom and I made these quilts for Katy and Kendra's graduation gifts. It was a lot of work!

This may very well be my last post before I head back to Kenya. That means that this is the last time I will be able to publish large picture files. Once I hit the home of slow internet connections (that would be Kenya, or anywhere in Africa really), I can only give you small ones. I'm sure this will be the cause of much heartache in the U.S. of A. Since I have been very consistent about not posting updates on my blog, I thought I would begin now. But where to begin...

I have spent the last few weeks in Bend, Oregon where my parents live now. My mom and I went to see my sister and brother-in-law (Denee and Steve) in Portland one weekend so we could help them paint their house. Well, in typical Portland fashion, it was rainy and humid all weekend, so there was no painting to be done. We did clean up their yard and enjoyed each other's company. And for anyone who cares, I enjoyed Burgerville's seasonal milkshake, which is raspberry right now. Delicious. You Oregonians out there know what I'm talking about. I thank God daily that I can tolerate lactose. Well, maybe not daily...

Last week I worked on getting my newsletters written and acquiring the addresses that I lost when my computer was stolen (Danielle Cornelius and Keri Ann Rumrey, if you're reading this, can I get your address?). I was able to do some other fun things, like play frisbee golf with my brothers and go rafting on the Deschutes River. Both were quite fun, though one was a but more thrilling than the other. I think rafting is probably the best activity you can do in the summer in central Oregon. It's too hot to do most anything else. But I'm a wimp because I've grown up with summers that reached 70 degrees max, and on the rare occasion that it did hit 80 degrees, we all wished we had air conditioners in our houses. I remember well those 50-degree spring days when we were finally allowed to throw on our swimming suits and run through the sprinkler. Oh Alaska, look what you have done to people.

This past weekend Denee and Steve came to Bend. It was the first time our whole family had been together since about this time last summer. Everything feels complete when we're all there. Things are going to change soon, however, since Wrecks, the dog we have had since I was 10 years old, is finally going to be put to sleep. His body isn't working very well anymore, and he's in so much pain that it is time to let him go. I know fellow dog lovers will understand that this is almost like the death of a family member. I drained my tear ducts today. My mom and I shared tissues.

The summer seems to have gotten away from me, and I don't know where it went. This Sunday I leave for Kenya. My parents are going to drive me to Seattle. From there I will fly to Amsterdam and then to Nairobi. I am looking forward to the school year and all that it holds for me, but as always, it is hard to say good bye to my family and friends. It has been so wonderful to be in the northwest and to enjoy all these people who are so much a part of who I am.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm back in the contiguous United States. I ended up extended my stay in Anchorage for a few extra days as I was having far too much fun visiting friends and gallavanting around my home town. It was wonderful to be able to catch up with the friends and family I haven't seen for a year. Now I am back in Bend, Oregon where my parents live. My brothers, Dayn and Drew, are here as well, and it feels so nice to have at least part of the family together. I have missed them so much. I hope you like these pictures. They aren't in chronological order.

Dayn and I went spelunking today in Boyd Cave here in Bend. It was incredible! This is Dayn crawling out of one of many small holes. We were pretty dirty afterwards.

This is us toward the back of the cave. We used the flash on the camera.

On my last day in Anchorage, some of my best friends and I went out to breakfast at Snow City Cafe. From left to right we have Debra, Jannell, Emily, me, Rachel, and Jessi.

Dayn and I had a really cold, windy hike back to Rabbit Lake. Hooray for Alaskan summers!

This is at the Alyeska Ski Resort. Jessi had a free night's stay at the Alyeska Prince Hotel, so the 5 of us got to spend the night there for free (the hotel is not pictured, just God's creation). Left to right - me, Jannell, Jessi, Lauralee, and Melody.
Dayn and I went backpacking at Williwaw Lakes with some friends. I love the Chugach.

P.S. After putting all these pictures online, I noticed that my brother Dayn appears in more than a few of these pictures. This is because Dayn and I do a lot of things together, and we are both not working this summer. Perhaps you are wishing you appeared in more. If you weren't working this summer and lived near me, I would probably include you in a lot of pictures as well.

Friday, July 06, 2007

One of the best parts of being at camp was counseling with my brothers! Dayn and I were twins this day, on accident.

Kids playing in the mud. We didn't have much water in our swimming whole.

This is one of the boats that brought kids from villages down river. We had two boats like this completely full of campers. Then one boat came from up river, and some kids arrived by float plane.

My friend Becca and I, in Anchorage, were pretending to be speed skaters.

Colleen (right) just finished running a marathon, and Jannell (left) and I (behind the camera) cheered her on.

Mt. Hood at sunrise

This is the group of us who attempted to climb Mt. Hood.

It's been a whirlwind of a few weeks. I am in Alaska now, visiting friends and unwinding a bit after my last week at Kokrine Hills Bible Camp. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a little bit. I left for Alaska on June 22nd, but before that I got to have a few adventures. On the night of June 20th I attempted to climb Mt. Hood. Due to some difficulties with weather and the health of my fellow climbers, we were unable to summit. I was disappointed to not go to the top, but also a bit relieved as the conditions were quite miserable. It was windy, I was freezing cold, and we were hiking in the middle of the night in order to avoid the warm part of the afternoon that is more avalanche-prone. Someday I will try again, but for now, I am glad I got to have this opportunity. After the climbing attempt, I got to spend some time with my dear friend Kendra Crosby in Portland. We had a really nice day walking around downtown, visiting Powell's Books and Whole Foods. I also got to spend some time with my sister, Denee, in Portland. We made some delicious food and enjoyed a warm, sunny evening in her backyard. This was quite a contrast to the cold, windy, snowy night I spent climbing the mountain.

I left for Alaska on June 22nd and was met at the airport by my good friend Jannell. And my friend Jessi also came to the airport, which was a complete surprise. I cried when I hugged them. Sometimes life just can't get any better, and this was one of those times. We made all the rounds - lunch at the Moose's Tooth, a trip to Kaladi Brothers Coffee, and plenty of hanging out and telling stories about our year apart. And considering my friends are the most funny, witty people in the world, I had a sore stomach the next day. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not as much as you may think. The next day Jannell and I cheered on her friend, Colleen, as she ran the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon. It was fun to watch, to join with the Anchorage community which I have missed so much. I ran into some friends who I had wanted to see, and I had a wonderful time hanging out with them and, of course, laughing some more.

On Sunday morning, I went to the church I grew up in, Anchorage Evangelical Free Church, which is now called Trailside Community Church. I showed them a short video of my year at West Nairobi School and then told them about my time in Kenya. Some of the people gave me money toward a new laptop, and with all the money people have given towards that, I have a new laptop that didn't cost me anything (for those of you who don't know, my computer was stolen last November in Nairobi). It's pretty humbling when people are that generous, but it's a beautiful picture of how the body of Christ works. I'm so blessed, and blessed doesn't feel like a good enough word to describe this feeling.

I spent a little more time in Anchorage on June 24th and 25th, and then I drove up to Palmer to visit Grandma and Grandpa Arnold. Thanks to a friend, Kevin Martin, I have a car to drive while I'm in Anchorage. I stayed the night with my grandparents, and we left early in the morning so I could drive to Fairbanks and they could get a ride to a town called Nenana, which is a couple hours south of Fairbanks. I was driving to Fairbanks so that I could fly to the village of Tanana, then take a boat to Kokrine Hills Bible Camp. This is the camp my grandpa started for the Native kids in the villages on the Yukon River in interior Alaska. I actually went as the guest speaker/teacher for the younger kids. The only access to the camp is by boat or floatplane, since the river is like a highway between villages. When I flew into Tanana (an Athabascan village), I was met by my cousin, Brian, and my brother, Drew. If you want to know more about the camp, the website is There is a blog where you can see updates from each day of camp.

I spent about a week at camp and really enjoyed teaching these kids. There were 57 of them, and many of them had never opened a Bible before. It was so thrilling to make the Word of God come alive for these kids and to teach them how to look things up in their Bibles. God was so faithful in helping them understand Jesus. I think sometimes we worry that kids this age (8-10 year olds) are too young to really understand the gospel. But I think we underestimate the faith of a child. Though they may not understand all the deep theological concepts that many of us are trying to figure out, their simplicity is exactly what God wants from us. They just believe, and they ask the most fabulous questions. In Psalm 8 it says, "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise." And this is so beautiful and so true.

I got back from camp yesterday (July 4th) and spent the night with the grandparents again and then with some of my cousins and other family members in Palmer. Now I am in Anchorage again, at my friend Jessi's. If you don't quite understand the chronology of events contained in this blog, I think you are not alone. But know that I am alive and well, enjoying Alaska for a few more days before I got back to Oregon on July 10th.