Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to School

The school year has officially begun for both our kids and the students on the ACC campus. Most of the ACC students arrived on campus last Thursday evening after long trips from all over Alaska. For many this trip took multiple days, and many forms of transportation. 

Campus feels completely different now that the students are here. There is a buzz of excitement, smiling faces around every corner, and hugs and fist bumps throughout the day. Last weekend was filled with "get to know you" activities including a hike up to Russian River Falls where salmon spawn and bears feast, a bonfire on the beach and tours of our town.

Noah hiked most of the 5 miles on his own- this was a short break near the end of the hike 

Quite a few of our students joined us for the hike- more noise= less chance of bear attack, so I was overjoyed by the turnout!

There was plenty of evidence even if we had missed this sign- you definitely had to watch your step!

Carmen and Alyssa were my hiking buddies- they kept me going when my legs started to complain. Carmen is one of our students from the recently flooded village of Galena. She lost her home in the flood. Rebuilding efforts are underway, but please continue to pray for Galena as winter quickly approaches.

The spawning red salmon were GINORMOUS!  It was amazing to watch them swim against the current and jump up the steps of the river.

Helping each other out with some shoulder rubs after making it up to the falls.

Steve got to re-connect with Eugene, who we met last November when we were here interviewing.

Classes started today, as well as many other activities on campus. One activity that I am really looking forward to is the mentoring time that we will have each week. This week all of the mentors and mentees met together for some games and ice-breaker time. We will start meeting one on one in two weeks. My mentee is going to be Marlene, a sweet student who is going to do me the GREAT honor of teaching me to sew during our time together. She sews beautiful kuspuks, a type of tunic that Native Alaskan's wear. We are going to make some for my kiddos and family members/friends that want them. Let me know if you are interested- hopefully I will be a kuspuk-sewing machine after my time with Marlene!

 Listening to the instructions for one of the games during todays mentoring time.

Grace and Noah started school last week. It has been so wonderful to hear how much they love their new school. This was definitely something I worried about when we were discussing moving to Alaska. Their school is right across the street from ACC, just a short walk away. We can easily go back and forth to be able to volunteer, attend school functions, etc. The kids love that their classrooms are right across the hall from one another so they see each other often throughout the day.

First day of Kindergarten

We are still loving the Alaskan life. Granted we have had gorgeous weather to enjoy! We spend much of our free time at the beach down the street from our house. We often see wildlife at the beach including bald eagles and a seal we have nicknamed "Sammy." In just a few short weeks (around 6 from what we hear) the beach will be covered in snow, so we are soaking it up while we can.

Bedtime walk at the beach

The kiddos like to "rock climb" during low-tide

 Fishing for driftwood with Dad

Please continue to pray for us as this semester kicks off. Our biggest prayer right now is for retention of our students. It can be a very difficult transition from life in the village to ACC. Some of our students have never been away from home. Ever. Their villages are completely isolated with no roads in or out. This is their first experience of "city" life, and it can be very overwhelming. Added to that is the strain and worry about being in an academic setting. We currently have 48 students. We could easily lose 10 of those in the first few weeks. We are praying for a miracle- that all 48 will choose to stay and see what God can do with their time here.