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 http://www.kokrinehills.org/. 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.