Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When in Alaska...

We have been so blessed to have lots of friends and family already visit us here in Alaska. Steve's mom has come a couple of times and his dad got to come over the fourth of July. My mom is arriving a week from today. It really means so much to us that loved ones are willing to make the north-bound trek!  Currently we have a family staying with us that came up with a work team from Palm Desert, California. They are staying an extra week and it has been so great to get to know them. All of these guests have given us ample reasons to explore our new home. We have visited Homer, AK, with its cute, artsy shops and majestic glacial mountains. It poured rain but was still a great day. I found my new favorite book store, crammed full of used books.

With the work team from Cornerstone Covenant Church we went to visit a dog lot where a team (plus quite a few others) of sled dogs live. What a different life that would be! There were around 40 dogs and when it was dinner-time things got pretty loud! I am excited to go watch some of the races this winter- they sound pretty amazing to see.

We are getting settled and learning our way around. Grace burned her finger on our fire place so we found the ER (she is fine, just a bad burn on the tip.) They did make fun of us for having our fire place on in June. Taylor (the dog) got sick so we found the vet. Grace's teeth were hurting so we found the dentist. Then we all got the flu this week and found our doctor. Necessity is the mother of introduction! ;) 

Steve has been working very hard on campus getting his courses developed and ready for the students. He has also been taking courses online to get his Masters in Applied Mathematics which will help Alaska Christian College  to meet their accreditation requirements. Every time I think we are done with school, more seems to come our way. Good thing we love it!

Steve and I have been really weighing our options as far as the kids schooling is concerned. We decided to enroll them at the public elementary school that is right across the street from ACC. We will be able to walk back and forth to volunteer and participate in the kids school events. We were nervous because they are getting a new principal and have been going through quite a few changes. We emailed the new principal to see if we could meet with him and he got back to us last week. He explained that his family just moved here this week and they are just getting settled but arranged to meet with us right away. He was incredibly nice, has kids the same age as ours (we already have a play-date scheduled) and seems like he has a great vision for the school. We already have him agreeing to play softball on our church's team :)  His family is from Montana but have been living in the bush in a small village for the past few years. They decided to move into town for their kids, but he has some really good insight on teaching the Native students within their culture. He will be an invaluable resource, and we are so excited and feel so much better about our decision to send the kids to his school.

We are counting down the last few weeks until our students return. The work teams are getting the campus ready, and Steve and the rest of the staff are preparing the academic side of things. Steve will be traveling with another staff member (and friend) Sean Hoffbeck who is the Dean of Students at ACC to the small village of Unalakleet the first week of August to attend a student leadership conference. This will be a great opportunity to get a better feel for village life as well as develop some strategies for raising student-leaders in our college. Steve is nervous about the lack of showers, but last we heard there was running water to at least use for sponge baths...probably....maybe. You can see Unalakleet's location on the map below, it is quite a bit farther North and West than we are located. You can read more about the village here: Unalakleet, Alaska

Although the kids seem to think that it is FREEZING here (I keep telling them, "just wait!") we have been enjoying the nice cool weather. There has been lots of bike-riding, playing outside, animal encounters, etc. and we are loving every minute of it. Steve ran (literally) into a moose on our front porch a few days ago when he was rushing out the door, but fortunately it was already moving away from the house at a pretty fast pace and didn't backtrack to "hoof" Steve. We see moose, caribou (reindeer), and bald eagles most commonly. There have been bears in the area but we have only seen "evidence" of the bears, and fortunately have not run into any actual bears.

We feel so blessed to be working with such a great group of people at Alaska Christian College. We have had lots of opportunities to spend time with everyone and it seems like our team is really going to mesh well. The Hamilton family (President at ACC) hosted a fourth of July BBQ at their house where everyone was able to come and spend time playing fun games and eating great food. We are looking forward to many more opportunities like this one to get to know our co-workers better!

 The "bat" game where you spin around a baseball bat...Alaskan-style (note the axe substation on the left)

We are excited for what the next month holds- especially meeting all of our new students! Thanks so much for all of your support, prayers, and encouraging words. Life here is definitely different, but we really feel like we are home.